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Title: Spiritual Reformers in the 16th & 17th Centuries
Author: Jones, Rufus Matthew, 1863-1948
Language: English
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Professor Of Philosophy, Haverford College, U.S.A.

MacMillan and Co., Limited
St. Martin's Street, London




  By Rufus M. Jones.

  By Rufus M. Jones, assisted by Isaac Sharpless and Amelia M. Gummere.

  By William Charles Braithwaite.

  By William Charles Braithwaite.

  By Rufus M. Jones.



In my _Quakers in the American Colonies_ I announced the preparation of
a volume to be devoted mainly to Jacob Boehme and his influence.  I
soon found, however, as my work of research proceeded, that Boehme was
no isolated prophet who discovered in solitude a fresh way of approach
to the supreme problems of the soul.  I came upon very clear evidence
that he was an organic part of a far-reaching and significant
historical movement--a movement which consciously aimed, throughout its
long period of travail, to carry the Reformation to its legitimate
terminus, the restoration of apostolic Christianity.  The men who
originated the movement, so far as anything historical can be said to
be "originated," were often scornfully called "Spirituals" by their
opponents, while they thought of themselves as divinely commissioned
and Spirit-guided "Reformers," so that I have with good right named
them "Spiritual Reformers."

I have had two purposes in view in these studies.  One purpose was the
tracing of a religious movement, profoundly interesting in itself, as a
great side current of the Reformation.  The other purpose was the
discovery of the background and environment of seventeenth century
Quakerism.  There can be little doubt, I think, that I have here found
at least one of the great historical sources of the Quaker movement.
This volume, together with my _Studies in Mystical Religion_, will at
any rate {vi} furnish convincing evidence that the ideas, aims,
experiences, practices, and aspirations of the early Quakers were the
fruit of long spiritual preparation.  This movement, as a whole, has
never been studied before, and my work has been beset with
difficulties.  I have been aided by helpful monographs on individual
"Reformers," written mainly by German and French scholars, who have
been duly credited at the proper places, but for the most part my
material has been drawn from original sources.  I am under much
obligation to my friend, Theodor Sippell of Schweinsberg, Germany.  I
am glad to announce that he is preparing a critical historical study on
John Everard and the Ranters, which will throw important light on the
religious ideas of the English Commonwealth.  He has read my proofs,
and has, throughout my period of research, given me the benefit of his
extensive knowledge of this historical field.  I wish to express my
appreciation of the courtesy and kindness which I have received from
the officials of the University Library at Marburg.  William Charles
Braithwaite of Banbury, England, has given me valuable help.  My wife
has assisted me in all my work of research.  She has read and re-read
the proofs, made the Index, and given me an immense amount of patient
help.  I cannot close this Preface without again referring to the
inspiration of my invisible friend, John Wilhelm Rowntree, in whose
memory this series was undertaken.


_January_ 1914.





WHAT IS "SPIRITUAL RELIGION" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   xi


THE MAIN CURRENT OF THE REFORMATION  . . . . . . . . . . .    1


HANS DENCK AND THE INWARD WORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   17











  SPIRITUAL RELIGION IN HOLLAND  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  104




JACOB BOEHME: HIS LIFE AND SPIRIT  . . . . . . . . . . . .  151


BOEHME'S UNIVERSE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  172


JACOB BOEHME'S "WAY OF SALVATION"  . . . . . . . . . . . .  190


JACOB BOEHME'S INFLUENCE IN ENGLAND  . . . . . . . . . . .  208











  SEVENTEENTH CENTURY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  320


CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  336

INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  351


  Within thy sheltering darkness spin the spheres;
  Within the shaded hollow of thy wings.
  The life of things,
  The changeless pivot of the passing years--
  These in thy bosom lie.
  Restless we seek thy being; to and fro
  Upon our little twisting earth we go:
  We cry, "Lo, there!"
  When some new avatar thy glory does declare,
  When some new prophet of thy friendship sings,
  And in his tracks we run
  Like an enchanted child, that hastes to catch the sun.

  And shall the soul thereby
  Unto the All draw nigh?
  Shall it avail to plumb the mystic deeps
  Of flowery beauty, scale the icy steeps
  Of perilous thought, thy hidden Face to find,
  Or tread the starry paths to the utmost verge of the sky?
  Nay, groping dull and blind
  Within the sheltering dimness of thy wings--
  Shade that their splendour flings
  Athwart Eternity--
  We, out of age-long wandering, but come
  Back to our Father's heart, where now we are at home.

  EVELYN UNDERHILL in _Immanence_, p. 82.





There is no magic in words, though, it must be confessed, they often
exercise a psychological influence so profound and far-reaching that
they seem to possess a miracle-working efficacy.  Some persons live all
their lives under the suggestive spell of certain words, and it
sometimes happens that an entire epoch is more or less dominated by the
mysterious fascination of a sacred word, which needs only to be spoken
on the house-top to set hearts beating and legs marching.

"Spiritual" has always been one of these wonder-working words.  St.
Paul, in Christian circles, was the first to give the word its unique
value.  For him it named a new order of life and a new level of being.
In his thought, a deep cleavage runs through the human race and divides
it into two sharply-sundered classes, "psychical men" and "pneumatical
men"--men who live according to nature, and men who live by the life of
the Spirit.  The former class, that is psychical men, are of the earth
earthy; they are, as we should say to-day, _empirical_, parts of a vast
nature-system, doomed, as is the entire system, to constant flux and
mutability and eventually to irretrievable wreck and ruin; the natural,
psychical, corruptible man cannot inherit incorruption.[1]  On the
other hand, the pneumatical or spiritual man {xii} "puts on"
incorruption and immortality.  He is a member of a new order; he is
"heavenly," a creation "not made with hands," but wrought out of the
substance of the spiritual world, and furnished with the inherent
capacity of eternal duration, so that "mortality is swallowed up of

This word, thus made sacred by St. Paul's great use of it to designate
the new race of the saved, was made the bearer in the Johannine
writings of a no less exalted message, which has become a living and
indissoluble part of the religious consciousness of the Christian
world.  "Eternal life"--or, what in these writings is the same thing,
"life"--comes through the reception of the Spirit, in a birth from
above.  "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is
born of the Spirit is Spirit."[3]  When the Spirit comes as the
initiator of this abundant life, then we "know that we abide in Him and
He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit," and it becomes
possible for the Spirit-led person to be guided "into all the truth,"
to "love even as He loved," and to "overcome the world."[4]  Here,
again, the human race is divided into those who have "received of the
Spirit," and those who have not so received; those who are "born from
above" and those who have had only a natural birth; the twice-born and
the once-born; those who are "of the Spirit," _i.e._ spiritual, and
those who are "of this world," _i.e._ empirical.

The Gnostic Sects of the second century had one common link and badge;
they all proposed a "way," often bizarre and strange-sounding to modern
ears, by which the soul, astray, lost, encumbered, or imprisoned in
matter, might attain its freedom and become _spiritual_.  Most of the
Gnostic teachers, who in their flourishing time were as thick as
thistle-downs in summer, conceived of man as consisting of two "halves"
which corresponded with two totally different world-orders.  There was
in man, or there belonged to man (1) a visible body, which {xiii} was
again dichotomized, and believed to be composed, according to many of
the Gnostics, of a subtle element like that of which they supposed Adam
in his unfallen state was made, which they named the _hylic_ body, and
a sheath of gross earthly matter which they called the _choical_
body.[5] There was also (2) another, invisible, "half," generally
divided into lower and higher stories.  The lower story, the psychical,
was created or furnished by the Demiurge, or sub-divine creator of the
natural system, while the top-story, or pneumatical self, was a
_spiritual seed_ derived from the supreme spiritual Origin, the Divine
Pleroma, the Fulness of the Godhead.  Those who possessed this
spiritual seed were "the elect," "the saved," who eventually, stripped
of their sheath of matter and their psychical dwelling, would be able
to pass all "the keepers of the way," and rise to the pure spiritual

The Montanists launched in the second century a movement, borne along
on a mountain-wave of enthusiasm, for a "spiritual" Church composed
only of "spiritual" persons.  They called themselves "the Spirituals,"
and they insisted that the age or dispensation of the Spirit had now
come.  The Church, rigidly organized with its ordained officials, its
external machinery, and its accumulated traditions, was to them part of
an old and outworn system to be left behind.  In the place of it was to
come a new order of "spiritual people" of whom the Montanist prophets
were the "first fruits,"--a new and peculiar people, born from above,
recipients of a divine energizing power, partakers in the life of the
Spirit and capable of being guided on by progressive revelations into
all the truth.  To be "spiritual" in their vocabulary meant to be a
participator in the Life of God, and to be a living member of a group
that was led and guided by a continuously self-revealing Spirit.  This
Spirit was conceived, however, not as immanent and resident, not as the
{xiv} indwelling and permeative Life of the human spirit, but as
foreign and remote, and He was thought of as "coming" in sporadic
visitations to whom He would, His coming being indicated in
extraordinary and charismatic manifestations.

This type of "spiritual religion," though eventually stamped out in the
particular form of Montanism, reappeared again and again, with peculiar
local and temporal variations, in the history of Christianity.[6]  To
the bearers of it, the historic Church, with its crystallized system
and its vast machinery, always seemed "unspiritual" and traditional.
They believed, each time the movement appeared, that _they_ had found
the way to more abundant life, that the Spirit had come upon them in a
special manner, and was through them inaugurating a higher order of
Christianity, and they always felt that their religion of direct
experience, of invading energy, of inspirational insights, of
charismatic bestowals, and of profound emotional fervour was distinctly
"spiritual," as contrasted with the historic Church which claimed
indeed a divine origin and divine "deposits," but which, as they
believed, lacked the continuous and progressive leadership of the
Spirit.  They were always very certain that their religion was
characteristically "spiritual," and all other forms seemed to them
cold, formal, or dead.  In their estimates, men were still divided into
spiritual persons and psychical persons--those who lived by the "heart"
and those who lived by the "head."

Parallel with the main current of the Protestant Reformation, a new
type of "spiritual religion" appeared and continued to manifest itself
with mutations and developments, throughout the entire Reformation era,
with a wealth of results which are still operative in the life of the
modern world.  The period of this new birth was a time of profound
transition and ferment, and a bewildering variety of roads was tried to
spiritual Canaans and new Jerusalems, then fondly believed to {xv} be
near at hand.  It is a long-standing tragedy of history that the right
wing of a revolutionary or transforming movement must always suffer for
the unwisdom and lack of balance of those who constitute the left, or
extreme radical, wing of the movement.  So it happened here.  The
nobler leaders and the saner spirits were taken in the mass with those
of an opposite character, and were grouped under comprehensive labels
of reproach and scorn, such as "Antinomians," "Enthusiasts," or
"Anabaptists," and in consequence still remain largely neglected and

The men who initiated and guided this significant undertaking--the
exhibition in the world of what they persistently called "spiritual
religion"--were influenced by three great historic tendencies, all
three of which were harmoniously united in their type of Christianity.
They were the Mystical tendency, the Humanistic or Rational tendency,
and the distinctive Faith-tendency of the Reformation.  These three
strands are indissolubly woven together in this type of so-called
spiritual Religion.  It was an impressive attempt, whether completely
successful or not, to widen the sphere and scope of religion, to carry
it into _the whole of life_, to ground it in the very nature of the
human spirit, and to demonstrate that to be a man, possessed of full
life and complete health, is to be religious, to be spiritual.  I
propose, as a preliminary preparation for differentiating this special
type of "spiritual religion," to undertake a study, as brief as
possible, of these three underlying and fundamental strands or
tendencies in religion which will, of course, involve some
consideration of the inherent nature of religion itself.

For my present purpose it is not necessary to study the twilight
history of religion in primitive races nor to trace its origins in the
cradle-stage of human life.  Anthropologists are rendering a valuable
service in their attempts to explore the baffling region of primitive
man's mind, and they have hit upon some very suggestive clues, though
so far only tentative ones, to the psychological experiences and
attitudes which set man's feet on the {xvi} momentous religious trail.
At every stage of its long and devious history, religion has been _some
sort of life-adjustment to realities which were felt to be of supreme
importance either to the individual or to the race_, and it becomes
thus possible for the scientific observer to note a developmental
process and to discover a principle which links it in with a universal
scheme of evolution.

But religion can never be adequately treated either in terms of racial
origins or of biological history, though there can be no doubt whatever
that there are genetic and biological factors to be considered.  Nor,
again, can religion be adequately and exhaustively dealt with by the
psychological method of investigation.  The psychological studies of
religion in recent years have greatly enriched our knowledge of the
range and scope and power of man's psychic nature and functions, of his
instincts, desires, valuations, needs, yearnings, beliefs, and modes of
activity and behaviour, and particularly of the important influence
which the social group has exercised and still exercises in the
furtherance of religious attitudes and ideals.  But the psychological
method has obvious and inherent limitations.  Like any other natural
science, psychology is limited to description and causal explanation of
the phenomena of its special field, which in this case is states of
consciousness.  It does not pretend, or even aspire, to pronounce upon
the ultimate nature of consciousness, nor upon the moral significance
of personality.  Psychology is as empirical as any other science.  It
modestly confines its scope of research to what _appears_ in finite and
describable forms.  It possesses no ladder by which it can transcend
the empirical order, the fact-level.  The religion which the
psychologist reports upon is necessarily stripped of all transcendental
and objective reference.  Its wings are severely clipped.  It is only
one of man's multitudinous _reactions_ in the presence of the facts of
his time and space world.  It is nakedly subjective and _works_, not
because there is Something or Some One beyond, which answers it, and
corresponds with its up-reach, but only {xvii} because undivided
faith-attitudes always liberate within the field of consciousness
energy for life-activity.

We need not blame the psychologist for this radical reduction of the
age-long pretensions of religion.  If he is to bring religion over into
the purview of the scientific field, he can do nothing else but reduce
it.  Science can admit into its world nothing that successfully defies
descriptive treatment.  The poet may know of flowers which "can give
thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears," but science discovers
no such flowers in its field.  Its flowers are amazingly complex, but
they call for no handkerchief.  They are merely aggregations of
describable parts, each of which has well-defined functions.  The "man"
whom science studies is complicated almost beyond belief.  He is an
aggregation of trillions of cells.  He is such a centre of vibrations
that a cyclone is almost a calm compared to the constant cyclic storms
within the area of man's corporeal system.  His "mental states" have
their entries and exits before "the foot-lights of consciousness" and
exhibit a drama more intricate than any which human genius has
conceived.  But each "state" is a definite, more or less describable,
_fact_ or _phenomenon_.  For science, "man's" inner life, as well as
his corporeal bulk, is an aggregate of empirical items.  No loophole is
left for freedom--that is for any novel undetermined event.  No
shekinah remains within for a mysterious "conscience" to inject into
this fact-world insights drawn from a higher world of noumenal, or
absolute, reality.  "Man" is merely a part of the naturalistic order,
and has no way of getting out of the vast net in which science catches
and holds "all that is."

There is, I repeat, no ground for blaming the psychologist for making
these reductions.  His science can deal only with an order of facts
which will conform to the scientific method, for wherever science
invades a field, it ignores or eliminates every aspect of novelty or
mystery or wonder, every aspect of reality which cannot be brought
under scientific categories, _i.e._ every aspect which cannot be
treated quantitatively and causally and {xviii} arranged in a congeries
of interrelated facts occurring according to natural laws.  The only
cogent criticism is that any psychologist should suppose that his
scientific account is the "last word" to be spoken, that his reports
contain all the returns that can be expected, or that this method is
the only way of approach to truth and reality.  Such claims to the
rights of eminent domain and such dogmatic assertions of exclusive
finality always reveal the blind spot in the scientist's vision.  He
sees steadily but he does not see wholes.  He is of necessity dealing
with a reduced and simplified "nature" which he constantly tends to
substitute for the vastly richer whole of reality that boils over and
inundates the fragment which submits to his categories.  We do well to
gather in every available fact which biology or anthropology or
psychology can give us that throws light on human behaviour, or on
primitive cults, or on the richer subjective and social religious
functions of full-grown men.  But the interior insight got from
religion itself, the rich wholeness of religious experience, the
discovery within us of an inner nature which defies description and
baffles all plumb-lines, and which _can draw out of itself more than it
contains_, indicate that we here have dealings with a type of reality
which demands for adequate treatment other methods of comprehension
than those available to science.

In the old Norse stories, Thor tried to empty the famous drinking-horn
in the games of Utgard, but to his surprise he found that, though the
horn looked small, he could not empty it, for it turned out that the
horn was immersed in the limitless and bottomless ocean.  Again he
tried to lift a small and insignificant-looking animal, but, labour as
he might, he could not lift it, for it was grown into, and was organic
with, the whole world, and could not be raised without raising the very
ground on which the lifter stood!  Somewhat so, the reality of religion
is so completely bound up with the whole personal life of man and with
his conjunct life in the social group and in the world of nature; it
is, in short, so much an {xix} affair of man's whole of experience, of
his spirit in its undivided and synthetic aspects, that it can never be
adequately dealt with by the analytic and descriptive method of this
wonderful new god of science, however big with results that method may

The interior insight, the appreciation of religion, the rich and
concrete whole of religious consciousness, is, and will always remain,
the primary way to the _secret_ of religion--religion in its "first
intention"--as the experience of time-duration is the only possible way
to the elemental meaning of time.  It has in recent years in many
quarters become the fashion to call this "interior insight," this
appreciation of religion from within, "mysticism"; and to assume that
here in mysticism we come upon the very essence of religion.  This
conclusion, however, is as narrow and as unwarranted as is the
truncation of religion at the hands of science.  The mystical element
in religion is only one element in a vastly richer complex, and it must
not be given undue emphasis and imperial sway in the appreciation of
the complete whole of "spiritual religion."  We must, too, carefully
discriminate _mystical experience_ from the elaborate body of doctrines
and theories, historically known as "mysticism," which is as much an
_ism_ as are the other typical, partial, and more or less abstract
formulations of religion.

Mysticism for the mystic himself is characterized by a personal
experience through which the ordinary limitations of life and the
passionate pursuits of the soul are transcended, and a self-evident
conviction is attained that he is in communion, or even in union, with
some self-transcending Reality that absolutely satisfies and is what he
has always sought.  "This is He, this is He," the mystic exclaims:
"There is no other: This is He whom I have waited for and sought after
from my childhood!"[7]

The experience is further characterized by the inrush {xx} of new
energies as though a mysterious door had been pushed open--either out
or in--admitting the human spirit to wider sources of life.  "Fresh
bubblings from the eternal streams of Life flowing into the soul" is
the way the recipient often describes it.  All the deep-lying powers of
the inward self, usually so divergent and conflicting--the foreground
purposes defeated by background inhibitions, and by doubts on the
border,--become liberated and unified into one conscious life which is
not merely intellectual, nor merely volitional, nor solely emotional,
but an undivided whole of experience, intensely joyous, enriched with
insight and pregnant with deeds of action.  As in lofty experiences of
appreciation of beauty, or of music, or when the chords of life are
swept by a great love, or by a momentous moral issue, the spirit rises
in mystical experience to a form of consciousness which no longer marks
clock-time and succession of events, whether outward or inward.  It may
afterwards take hours or days or weeks or even years to spread out and
review and apprehend and adjust to the experience--"the opening," to
use George Fox's impressive word--but while it is _there_ it is held in
one unbroken synthetic time-span.  It is, to revive a scholastic
phrase, a _totum simul_, an all-at-once experience, in which parts,
however many, make one integral whole, as in a melody or in a work of
art; so that the mystic has a real experience of what we try to express
by the word Eternity.  It feels as though the usual insulations of our
own narrow personal life were suddenly broken through and we were in
actual contact with an enfolding presence, life-giving, joy-bringing,
and light-supplying.

In instances where the intensity is great, unusual psychological
phenomena appear.  Sometimes voices are heard, or sounds "like a mighty
rushing wind"; sometimes there are automatic visions of light, or of
forms or figures, as, for instance, of Christ, or of a cross; sometimes
automatic writing or speaking attends the experience; sometimes there
are profound body-changes of a temporary, or even permanent character;
sometimes there {xxi} is a state of swoon or ecstacy, lasting from a
few seconds to entire days.  These physical phenomena, however, are as
spiritually unimportant and as devoid of religious significance as are
the normal bodily resonances and reverberations which accompany, in
milder degrees, all our psychic processes.  They indicate no high rank
of sainthood and they prove no miracle-working power.  The significant
features of the experience are the consciousness of fresh springs of
life, the release of new energies, the inner integration and
unification of personality, the inauguration of a sense of mission, the
flooding of the life with hope and gladness, and the conviction,
amounting in the mind of the recipient to certainty, that God is found
as an environing and vitalizing presence--as the recipient already
quoted reports his conviction: "I have met with my God; I have met with
my Saviour.  I have felt the healings drop upon my soul from under His

If _everybody_ had experiences of that sort there would be no more
doubt of the existence of an actual spiritual environment in vitalizing
contact with the human spirit than there now is of an external world
with which we correspond.  There is _a priori_ no reason against the
reality of such an inner spiritual universe.  It is precisely as
conceivable that constructive and illuminating influences should stream
into our inner selves from that central Light with which our inmost
self is allied, as that objects in space and time should bombard us
with messages adapted to our senses.  The difference is that we all
experience the outer environment and only a few of us experience the
inner.  The mystic himself has no doubt--_he sees_, but he cannot give
quite his certainty of vision to any one else.  He cannot, like "the
weird sisters" of Greek story, lend out his eye for others to see with.
He can only talk about, or write about, what he has seen, and his words
are often words of little meaning to those who lack the vision.



But the very characteristics of mystical religion which give it its
self-evidence and power at the same time mark limits to its scope and
range.  It is and must be primarily and essentially first-hand
experience, and yet it is an experience that is by no means universal.
It is not, so far as we can see from the facts at hand, an experience
which attaches to the very nature of consciousness as such, or indeed
one which is bound to occur even when the human subject strains forward
all the energies of his will for the adventure, or when by strict
obedience to the highest laws of life known to him he _waits_ for the
high visitation.  Some aspect is involved over which the will has no
control.  Some other factor is implied besides the passion and the
purity of the seeking soul.  The experience "comes," as an inrush, as
an emergence from the deeper levels of the inner life, but the glad
recipient does not know how he secured the prize or how to repeat the
experience, or how to tell his friend the way to these "master moments"
of blessedness.

There are numerous persons who are as serious and earnest and
passionate as the loftiest mystical saint, and who, in spite of all
their listening for the inner flow of things, discover no inrushes,
feel no invasions, are aware of no environing Companion, do not even
feel a "More of Consciousness conterminous and continuous with their
own."  Their inner life appears impervious to divine bubblings.  The
only visitants that pass over the threshold of their consciousness are
their own mental states, now bright and clear, now dim and strange, but
all bearing the brand and mark of temporal origin.  This type of
experience must not, therefore, be insisted on as the only way to God
or to the soul's homeland.  Spiritual religion must not be put to the
hazard of conditions that limit its universality and restrict it to a
chosen few.  To insist on mystical experience as the only path to
religion would involve an "election" no less inscrutable and {xxiii}
pitiless than that of the Calvinistic system--an "election" settled for
each person by the peculiar psychic structure of his inner self.[9]

There is another limitation which must always attach to religion of the
purely mystical type.  In so far as it is an _experience_ of the inward
type, it is indescribable and incommunicable.  That does not mean or
imply any lessened value in the experience itself, it only means that
it is very difficult to mint it into the universal coinage of the
world.  The recovery of faith, after some catastrophic bankruptcy of
spiritual values, as with Job or Dante or Faust, cannot be described in
analytic steps.  The loss of faith in the rationality of the universe,
the collapse of the "beautiful world" within, can be told step by step;
the process of integration and reconstruction, on the other hand,
always remains somewhat of a mystery, though it is plain enough that a
new and richer inner world has been found.  So, too, with Mysticism.
The experience itself may, and often does, bring to the recipient an
indubitable certainty of spiritual realities, revealing themselves
within his own spirit, and, furthermore, it is often productive of
permanent life-results, such as augmented conviction, heightened tone
of joy, increased unification of personality, intense moral passion and
larger conquering power, but he, nevertheless, finds it a baffling
matter to draw from his mystical experience concrete information about
the nature and character of God, or to supply, from the experience
alone, definite contributions that can become part of the common
spiritual inheritance of the race.

                                 The soul
  Remembering how she felt, but _what_ she felt
  Remembering not, retains an obscure sense
  Of possible sublimity.[10]


There can be, I think, no doubt that the persons whom we call mystics
have enormously added to the richness of our conception of God, or that
they have made impressive contributions to the capital stock of our
religious knowledge.  But I question whether these increments of
knowledge can be fairly traced to "information" which has entered the
world through the secret door of mystical "openings."  The conception
of God by which we live, and our knowledge of eternal life, are in the
main not formed of the material which has mysteriously dropped into the
world by means of "sudden incursions," or "oracular communications"
through persons of extraordinary psychical disposition.  What we get
from the mystic, or from the prophet, is not his "experience" but his
interpretation, and as soon as he begins to _interpret_, he does so by
means of the group-material which the race has gathered in its
corporate experience through the ages.  The valuable _content_ of his
message, so far as he succeeds in delivering one, the ideas with which
his words are freighted, bear the marks of the slow accumulations of
spiritual experience, and they reveal the rich and penetrative
influence of the social group in which the mystic's inner life formed
and ripened.  They have a history as all ideas do.

The real fact of the matter is, that the great mystics are religious
geniuses.  They make their contribution to religion in ways similar to
those in which the geniuses in other fields raise the level of human
attainments and achievements.  They swiftly seize upon and appreciate
the specific achievements of the race behind them; they are profoundly
sensitive to the aspirations of their time and to the deep-lying
currents of their age; they are suggestible in an acute degree, through
heightened interest, to certain ideas or truths or principles which
they synthesise by such leaps of insight that slow-footed logic seems
to be transcended.  Then these unifying and intensifying experiences to
which they are subject give them irresistible conviction, "a surge of
certainty," a faith of the mountain-moving order, and an increasing
{xxv} dynamic of life which, in the best cases, is manifest in thoughts
and words and deeds.  Their mystical experience seldom supplies them
with a new intellectual content which they communicate, but their
experience enables them rather to _see_ what they know, to get
possession of themselves, and to fuse their truth with the heat of
conviction.  The mystical experience is thus a way of heightening life
and of increasing its dynamic quality rather than a way to new

The _negative way_, which has been such a prominent and prevailing
characteristic of historical mysticism that many writers have made it
the distinct and sufficient differentia of mysticism, has often
produced intensity and depth, but it is, nevertheless, a mark of the
limitation of this type of religion.  The indescribable and
undifferentiated character of mystical experience is no doubt partly
responsible for the emphatic place which negation has held in
mysticism.  The experience itself, which seems like "a flight of the
alone to the Alone," can be told in no words except those of negation.
"The mortal limit of the self" seems loosed, and the soul seems merged
into that which it forever seeks but which having found it cannot
utter.  But the type of metaphysics through which most of the great
mystics of history have done their thinking and have made their
formulations is still further responsible for the excessive negativity
of their systems.

There is, of course, a negative element or aspect in all genuine
religion.  No person can grow rich in spiritual experience or can gain
an intimate acquaintance with a God of purity and truth without
negating the easy ways of instinct, the low pursuits of life which end
in self, the habits of thought and action which limit and hamper the
realization of the diviner possibilities of the whole nature.
Sometimes the eye that hinders must be plucked out or the right hand
cut off and thrust away for the sake of a freer pursuit of the soul's
kingdom.  There is, too, a still deeper principle of negativity
involved in the very fibre of personal life itself.  No one can advance
without {xxvi} surrender, no one can have gains without losses, no one
can reach great goals without giving up many things in themselves
desirable.  There is "a rivalry of me's" which no person can ever
escape, for in order to choose and achieve one typical self another
possible self must be sternly sacrificed.  In a very real sense it
remains forever true that we must die to live, we must die to the
narrow self in order to be raised to the wider and richer self.

But the _negative way_ of mysticism is more rigorous and more thorough
in its negation than that.  Its negations "wind up the hill all the way
to the very top."  Even the _self_ must be absolutely negated.  "The
self, the I, the me and the like, all belong to the evil spirit.  The
whole matter can be set forth in these words: Be simply and wholly
bereft of self."  "The I, the me, and the mine, nature, selfhood, the
Devil, sin, are all one and the same thing."[11]  Not only so, but all
_desire_ for any particular thing, or any particular experience must be
utterly extirpated.  "Whatever Good the creature as creature can
conceive of and understand is something this or that," and therefore
not the One Real Good.[12]  "So long as thy soul has an image, it is
without simplicity, and so long as it is without simplicity it doth not
rightly love God."[13]  "Divine love can brook no rival."  He who seeks
God must "rid himself of all that pertains to the creature."  He that
would find the absolute Good must withdraw not only beyond all his
senses, but beyond all desires, into an inner "solitude where no word
is spoken, where is neither creature nor image nor fancy."  "Everything
depends," Tauler counsels us, "upon a fathomless sinking into a
fathomless nothingness. .  . .  God has really no place to work in but
the ground where all has been annihilated. . . .  Then when all forms
have ceased, in the twinkling of an eye, the man is transformed. . . .
Thou must sink into the unknown and unnamed abyss, and above all ways,
images, forms, and above all powers, {xxvii} lose thyself, deny
thyself, and even unform thyself."[14] The moment the will focusses
upon any concrete aim as its goal, it must thereby miss that Good which
is above and beyond all particular "things" that can be conceived or

But the _negative way_ winds up farther still.  It ends in the
absolutely negative Silent Desert of Godhead "where no one is at home."
Its way up is the way of abstraction and withdrawal from everything
finite.  He whom the soul seeks cannot be found in anything "here" or
"now"; He must be "yonder."  "It is by no means permitted," says one of
the great experts in negation, "to speak or even to think anything
concerning the super-essential and hidden Deity. . . .  It is a Unity
above mind, a One above conception and inconceivable to all
conceptions, a Good unutterable by word."[15]  "Thou must love God,"
Eckhart says, "as not-God, not-Spirit, not-person, not-image, but as He
is, a sheer, pure, absolute One, sundered from all two-ness and in whom
we must eternally sink from nothingness to nothingness."[16]  God, the
Godhead, is thus the absolute "Dark," "the nameless Nothing," an empty
God, a characterless Infinite.  "Why dost thou prate of God," Eckhart
says, "whatever thou sayest of Him is untrue!"  The rapt soul at the
end of his road, at the top of the hill, only knows that every finite
account is false and that the only adequate word is an everlasting Nay.

  Whatever idea your mind comes at,
  I tell you flat
  God is _not_ that.[17]

The great mystics have always saved themselves by neglecting to be
consistent with this rigorous negation and abstraction.  In their
practice they have cut through their theory and gone on living the rich
concrete life.  {xxviii} But the theory itself is a false theory of
life, and it leads only to a God of abstraction, not to the God of
spiritual religion.  The false trail, however, is to be charged, as I
have said, not so much to mystical experience as to the metaphysics
through which the mystics, not only of Christian communions, but of
other faiths, were compelled to do their thinking.  There was no other
way of thinking known to them except this way of negation.  The
Infinite was the not-finite; the Absolute was precisely what the
contingent was _not_.  The perfect was free of every mark of
imperfection.  Behind all manifestations was the essential Substance
which made the manifestations.  The completely Real was above all
mutation and process.  "For one to assign," therefore, "to God any
human attributes," as Spinoza, the supreme apostle of this negative way
has said, "is to reveal that he has no true idea of God." It has taken
all the philosophical and spiritual travail of the centuries to
discover that there may be a concrete Infinite, an organic Absolute, an
immanent Reality, and that the way to share in this comprehending Life
is at least as much a way of affirmation as of negation, a way that
leads not into "the Dark" but into the Light, and not into a
"fathomless nothing," but into an abundant and radiant life.

Mysticism, as a type of religion, has further staked its precious
realities too exclusively upon the functions of what to-day we call the
sub-conscious.  Impressed with the divine significance of "inward
bubblings," the mystic has made too slight an account of the testimony
of Reason and the contribution of history.  The subconscious functions
are very real and very important aspects of personal life, and can
never again be ignored in any full account of personality.  They
influence every thought, feeling, attitude, volition, opinion, mood,
and insight, and are thus operative in all the higher as well as in all
the lower phases of human life and character.  Metaphorically, but only
metaphorically, we speak of the sub-conscious as a vast zone, an
indefinable margin, surrounding the narrow focus of attention, and we
may {xxix} figuratively, but only figuratively, call it the subliminal
"region" where all our life-gains, and often the gains of the race, are
garnered.  The contributions from this mental underworld are
inestimable--we could not be men without them--but this subconscious
zone is a source of things bad as well as good, things silly as well as
things wise, of rubbish as well as of treasures, and it is diabolical
as well as divine.  It seems in rare moments to connect, as though it
were a hidden inland stream, with the "immortal sea which brought us
hither," and we feel at times, through its incomes, as though we were
aware of _tides_ from beyond our own margin.  And, in fact, I believe
we are.

But obviously we cannot assume that whatever comes spontaneously out of
the subconscious is divinely given.  It mothers strange
offspring--Esaus as well as Jacobs; its openings, its inrushes, its
bubblings must be severely tested.  Impulses of many sorts feel
categorically imperative, but some call to deeds of light and some to
deeds of darkness.  They cannot be taken at their face value; they must
be judged in some Court which is less capricious and which is guided by
a more universal principle--something _semper et ubique_.  A spiritual
religion of the full and complete type will, I believe, have inward,
mystical depth, it will keep vitalized and intensified with its
experiences of divine supplies, and of union and unification with an
environing Spirit, but it must at the same time soundly supplement its
more or less capricious and subjective, and always fragmentary,
mystical insights with the steady and unwavering testimony of Reason,
and no less with the immense objective illumination of History.


The men whom I am here calling Spiritual Reformers are examples of this
wider synthesis.  They all read and loved the mystics and they
themselves enjoyed times of direct refreshment from an inward Source of
Life, but {xxx} they were, most of them, at the same time, devoted
Humanists.  They shared with enthusiasm the rediscovery of those
treasures which human Reason had produced, and they rose to a more
virile confidence in the sphere and capacity of Reason than had
prevailed in Christian circles since the days of the early Greek
Fathers.  They took a variety of roads to their conclusion, but in one
way or another they all proclaimed that deep in the central nature of
man--an inalienable part of Reason--there was a Light, a Word, an Image
of God, something permanent, reliable, universal, and unsundered from
God himself.  They all knew that man is vastly more than "mere man."
Hans Denck, one of the earliest of this group of Spiritual Reformers,
declared that there is a _witness to God_ in the soul of every man, and
that without this inward Word it would be as impossible to bring men to
God by outward means as it would be to show sunlight to eyeless men.
He anticipated the great saying of Pascal in these words, "Apart from
God no one can either seek or find God, for he who seeks God already in
truth has Him."[18]  "We are," says Jacob Boehme, who belongs in this
line of Spiritual Reformers, "of God's substance: we have heaven and
hell in ourselves."[19]  There is in us, Peter Sterry says, a _unity of
spirit_ which holds all things together in an _at-once_ experience, "a
spire-top of spirit where all things meet and sit recollected and
concentred in an unfathomed Depth of Life."[20]  Most of these men were
in revolt against scholasticism and all its works.  They speak often
very slightingly of "Reasoning," the attempt to find a way to ultimate
Realities by logical syllogisms, but they, nevertheless, believed great
things of man's rational and moral nature.  They are often confused and
cloudy in their explicit accounts of this ultimate moral and rational
nature.  They everywhere indicate the conceptual limitations {xxxi}
under which even those who were the most emancipated from tradition
were compelled to do their thinking in that age.  They could not break
the age-long spell and mighty fascination with which the Adam story and
the Garden of Eden picture had held the Christian world.  They were
convinced, however, that the Augustinian interpretation of the fall,
with its entail of an indelible taint upon the race forever, was an
inadequate, if not an untrue account, though they could not quite
arrive at an insight which enabled them to speak with authority on the
fundamental nature of man.  But with an instinct that pointed right,
they took Adam as a type of the unspoiled man, and they saw writ large
in him the possibilities and potentialities of man.  What had been
originally possible in Adam became, according to their thought, actual
realization in Jesus Christ--the form and type of man, the true Head of
the race--and in spite of the havoc and spoiling, which sin had
wrought, that original possibility, that divine potentiality, still
reappears in every child, who comes now, as Adam did, made in the image
of God, with the breath of God in him, and with creative freedom of
will to settle his own destiny.  Some of the Reformers whom I am here
studying centre this image of God, this immense divine potentiality, in
the ideal man, in man as God conceives him in his perfect state, or as
God by His Grace intends him to be, and they do not go the whole bold
way of asserting that this man we know, this man who lives in time and
space, who loves and sins and suffers, has and always has, in the very
structure of his inmost moral and rational being, a divine, unlost,
inalienable, soul-centre which is unsundered from God, and bears
eternal witness to our origin from Him, our potential likeness to Him,
and our capacity to receive illumination from Him.[21]  But this latter
{xxxii} bolder view of the inherent greatness of man's essential nature
is the prevailing tendency of these men.  They are thus the forerunners
of the Quaker faith that there is something of God in man, and they
continue the direct line, which goes back for ancestry to the Socratic
movement in philosophy of those who find God involved and implicated in
the nature of normal self-consciousness and in the idea of the Good
toward which we live.[22]

Mystics and prophets, as Seely well says in _Ecce Homo_, seem to
themselves to "discover truth not so much by a process of reasoning as
by _an intense gaze_, and they announce their conclusions with the
voice of a herald, using the name of God and giving no reasons."  The
rational way of approach is different.  It seeks to draw out by a
process of rational argument what is involved in the outer or inner
facts that are present to consciousness.  It does not claim the power
to make bricks without clay, to construct its conclusions out of
nothing.  Its only legitimate field is that of interpreting experience.
There have always been men who were religious because they could not
help being religious, because a Universe without God seemed to them
utterly irrational and unthinkable.  Schleiermacher is only one witness
in a long and impressive succession of thinkers that have insisted that
"consciousness of God and self-consciousness are inseparable."[23]  It
is obvious even to the unmetaphysical person that self-consciousness
always presupposes and involves something prior to one's own existence
and some reality transcending the reality of one's own self.  The
finite is intelligible only through the infinite, the temporal only
through the eternal.  We cannot think at all without appealing to some
_permanent more of reality_ than is just now given in our particular
finite experience, and no matter how far one travels on the road of
knowledge one always finds it still necessary to make reference to _a
transcending more_.  "All consciousness is," as Hegel {xxxiii} showed
in 1807, in his philosophical Pilgrim's Progress, the _Phenomenology of
Spirit_, "an appeal to more consciousness," and there is no rational
halting-place short of a self-consistent and self-explanatory spiritual
Reality, which explains the origin and furnishes the goal of all that
is real.

On the other hand, there have always been men who have not granted any
such compelling implications to self-consciousness.  They have
maintained that "finites" are forever "finites," and that there are no
bridges that carry us from our finite "nows" and "heres" to an infinite
Reality.  The infinite Reality, they all admit, is conceivable; it is
"an idea" to which any mind can rise by normal processes of thought,
"but," so they say, "an _idea_ of an infinite Reality, an Infinite
merely conceived in the mind, is different, by the whole width of the
sky, from an actual objective infinite Reality that is _there_, and
that contains inherently all that our hearts seek in God."

It is quite true, of course, that the presence of "an idea" in our mind
does not of itself prove the existence of a corresponding objective
reality _out there_ in a world independent of our mind.  There is most
assuredly no way of bridging "the chasm" between mind and an objective
world beyond and outside of mind, when once the "chasm" is assumed.
But the fundamental error lies in the assumption of any such "chasm."
The "chasm" which yawns between the inner and outer world is of our own
making.  Whenever we know anything, wherever there is knowledge at all,
there is a synthetic indivisible whole of experience in which a subject
knows an object.  Subject and object cannot be really sundered without
putting an instant end to knowledge--leaving "a bare grin without a
face!"  The only way we know anything is that we know we know it in
experience.  We do not ever succeed in proving that objects exist _out
there_ in the world beyond us exactly correspondent to these ideas in
our minds.  That is a feat of mental gymnastics quite parallel to that
of "finding" {xxxiv} the self with which we do the seeking.  The
crucial problem of knowledge is not to discover a bridge to leap the
chasm between the mind within and the world beyond.  It is rather the
problem of finding a basis of verifying and testing what we know, and
of making knowledge a consistent rational whole.

The method of testing and verifying any fact of truth which we have on
our hands, is always to organize it and link it into a larger whole of
knowledge which we ourselves, or the wider group of persons in which we
are organic members, have verified, and to see that it fits in
consistently into this larger whole, and in this rational process we
always assume, and are bound to assume, some sort of Reality that
transcends the fleeting and temporal, the caprice of the moment, the
will of the subject, the here and the now.  The mind that knows and
knows that it knows must, as Plato centuries ago declared, rise from
the welter and flux of momentary seemings to true Being, to the
eternally Real,[24] and the knowledge process of binding fragments of
experience into larger wholes and of getting articulate insight into
the significance of many facts grasped in synthetic unity--in the
"spire-top of spirit," as Sterry puts it--carries the mind steadily and
irresistibly on to an infinitely-inclusive and self-explanatory
spiritual Whole, which is always implied in knowledge.  Some reference
to the _permanent_ is necessary in judging even the fleetingness of the
"now," some confidence in the eternally true is essential for any
pronouncement upon the false, some assurance of the infinite is
presupposed in the endless dissatisfaction with the finite, some appeal
to a total whole of Reality is implicated in any assertion that _this
fact here and now_ is known as real.  Any one who feels the full
significance of what is involved in knowing the _truth_ has a coercive
feeling that Eternity has been set within us, that our finite life is
deeply rooted in the all-pervading Infinite.

The great thinkers of the first rank who have undertaken to sound the
significance of rational knowledge, {xxxv} and who have appreciated the
meaning of the synthetic unity of the knowing mind and the world of
objects that submit to its forms of thought, have recognized that there
must be some deep-lying fundamental relation between the mind that
knows and the world that is known, some Reality common to both outer
and inner realms.  They have, almost without exception, found
themselves carried along irresistibly to an ultimate Reality that is
the ground and explanation of all the fragmentary facts of experience,
and without which nothing can be held to be permanent or rational--

        Something far more deeply interfused,
  Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
  And the round ocean and the living air,
  And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
  A motion and a Spirit, that impels
  All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
  And rolls through all things.[25]

The technical logical formulation of arguments to _prove_ the existence
of God as objectively real--arguments from causality, ontological
arguments, and arguments from design--all of which assume a "chasm"
between the knower and the object known, seem to us perhaps on critical
analysis thin and insufficient.  The bridge of formal logic seems too
weak to carry us safely over from a finite here to an infinite yonder,
from a contingent fact to an Absolute Reality, from something given
_in_ consciousness to Something existent outside and beyond it; but it
is an impressive and significant fact that all finite experience, both
of inner and outer events, involves a More yet, that we cannot think
finite and contingent things without rational appeal to Something
infinite and necessary, that human experience cannot be rationally
conceived except as a fragment of a vastly more inclusive Experience,
always recognized within the finite spirit, that unifies and binds
together into one self-explanatory whole all that is absolutely Real
and True, and this is Reason's conviction of God.


When once the conviction is _felt_ and the rational postulate of God is
made, it immediately verifies its practical value in the solution of
our deepest problems.  A happy illustration of the practical value and
verifying evidence of the rational postulate of God has been given by
James Ward: "Suppose," he says, "that the earth were wrapt in clouds
all day while the sky was clear at night, so that we were able to see
the planets and observe their movements as we do now, though the sun
itself was invisible.  The best account we could give of the planetary
motions would still be to refer them to what for us, in accordance with
our supposition, would only be an imaginary focus [or centre of
physical energy], but one to which was assigned a position identical
with the sun's [present] position."[26]  This assumption would at once
unlock the mystery and account for the varying movements of these
visible bodies and the more rigorously the hypothesis were applied, the
more exactly it would verify itself.  So, too, with Reason's sublime
venture of faith.  The nature of self-consciousness demands the
postulate, and once it is made it _works_.

The same result follows any attempt adequately to account for the moral
imperative--the will to live the truly good life.  The moral will turns
out always to be imbedded in a deeper, richer, more inclusive Life than
that of the fragmentary finite individual.  There is a creative and
autonomous central self in us which puts before us ideals of truth and
beauty and goodness that are nowhere to be "found" in this world of
sense-facts, and that yet are more real and august than any things our
eyes see or our hands handle.  Our main moral problem is not to adjust
our inner ideals to our environment, but rather to compel the
environment to level up to our ideals.  The world that ought to be
makes us forever dissatisfied with the world that is, and sets us with
a fixity of purpose at the task of realizing the Kingdom which might
possibly be, which we know ought to be, and which, therefore, has our
loyal endeavour that it {xxxvii} shall be, regardless of the cost in
pain and sacrifice.  Man, as William Wallace has put it, "projects his
own self-to-be into the nature he seeks to conquer.  Like an assailant
who should succeed in throwing his standard into the strong central
keep of the enemy's fortress, and fight his way thereto with assured
victory in his eyes of hope, so man with the vision of his soul
prognosticates his final triumph."[27]  But if the life of moral
endeavour is to be essentially consistent and reasonable there must be
a world of Reality that transcends this realm of empirical, causal, and
utilitarian happenings.  Struggle for ends of goodness must be at least
as significant in function as struggle for existence; our passion for
what ought to be must have had birth in an inner eternal environment at
least as real as that which produced our instincts and appetite for the
things by which we live in time.  If the universe is through and
through rational, there must be some personal Heart that _cares_; some
moral Will that guarantees and backs our painful strivings--our
groaning and travailing--to make what ought to be come into play here
in the world which is.  This postulate is Reason's faith in God, and
again it _works_.

The evolution of life--if it is evolving as we believe it is,
and if it is to be viewed with rational insight as an upward
process--irresistibly involves and implies some sort of fundamental
intelligence and conscious purpose, some Logos steering the mighty
movement.  We have outgrown crude arguments from "design," and we
cannot think of God as a foreign and external Creator, working as a
Potter on his clay; but it is irrational to "explain" a steadily
unfolding movement, an ever-heightening procession of life, by
"fortuitous variations," by "accidental" shifts of level, or even by a
blind _élan vital_.  If there is an increasing purpose and a clearly
culminating drama unfolding in this moving flood of life, then there is
some Mind that sees the way, and some Will that directs the march of
Life.  And this confidence of ours in some divine Event to which the
whole creation moves, {xxxviii} this insight that there must be a
significant and adequate explanation for the immanent teleology and
beauty with which our universe is crammed, is, once more, Reason's
postulate of God.  There is something in us, indissoluble from Reason
itself--a Light, a Word, a Witness as these Spiritual Reformers
insisted--which links us in all the deeper processes of
self-consciousness with _That Which Is_ and without which "knowledge"
would be a mere flux of seemings, a flight of _seriatim_ items.


  When this world's pleasures for my soul sufficed,
  Ere my heart's plummet sounded depths of pain,
  I called on reason to control my brain,
  And scoffed at that old story of the Christ.

  But when o'er burning wastes my feet had trod,
  And all my life was desolate with loss,
  With bleeding hands I clung about the cross,
  And cried aloud, "Man needs a suffering God."[28]

There can be no doubt that the compulsions and implications of rational
insight have brought multitudes of men to God, have given them an
unescapable conviction of His reality, and have swayed their wills to
live in conformity to His perfect Goodness; and it is also true that
when for any cause this clue of rationality is missed or lost, men
flounder about in the fog and pass through periods of inward tragedy
amounting often to despair.  But the approach of Reason still leaves
much to be desired.  It points to something deeper than the transitory
flux of things, it raises our minds to some sort of ultimate and
self-explanatory Reality, it compels the conviction that there is an
all-inclusive Logos--Mind or Spirit--that explains what is and what
ought to be, and what in the unfolding course of things is to be; but
it does not bring us to a personal God who is our loving Friend and the
{xxxix} intimate Companion of our souls, it does not help us solve the
mystery of human suffering that lies heavily upon our lives, and it
does not bring to our spirits _the saving reinforcement of personal
Love_ that must be a central feature of a spiritual and adequate

There is still another way of approach to a Religion for mature minds
which has been no less universally operative and no less dynamic in its
transforming effects upon human lives than either of the two tendencies
so far considered--I refer to the way of Faith.  By Faith I mean the
soul's moral or appreciative apprehension of God as _historically
revealed_, particularly as revealed in the personal life of Jesus
Christ.  This Faith-way to God cannot be wholly separated--except by an
artificial abstraction--from the inward way of mysticism, or from the
implications of Reason.  It is no blind acceptance of traditional
opinions, no uncritical reliance on "authority," or on some mysterious
infallible oracle.  It is the spiritual response--or "assent," as
Clement of Alexandria called it--the moral swing of our inmost self, as
we catch insights of a loving Heart and holy Will revealed through the
words and lives and sufferings of saints and prophets, who have lived
by their vision of God, and supremely revealed in the Life and Love,
the Passion and the Triumphs of that Person whose experience and
character and incarnation of life's possibilities seem at last adequate
for all the needs--the heights and the depths--of this complex life of

It was Luther's living word which first brought the momentous
significance of Faith to clear consciousness in the sixteenth century.
But the new way of Faith meant many and discordant things, according to
the preparation of the ears of those who heard.  It spoke, as all
Pentecosts do, to each man in his own tongue.  To those who came to the
Lutheran insight with a deep hunger of spirit for reality and with
minds liberated by Humanistic studies, the Faith-message meant new
heavens and a new earth.  It was a new discovery of God, and a new
estimate of man.  They suddenly caught {xl} a vision of life as it was
capable of becoming, and they committed their fortunes to the task of
making that possible world real.  By a shift of view, as revolutionary
as that from Ptolemaic astronomy to the verifiable insight of
Copernicus, they passed over from the dogma of a Christ who came to
appease an angry God, and to found a Church as an ark of safety in a
doomed world, to the living apprehension of a Christ--verifiable in
experience--who revealed to them, in terms of His own nature, an
eternally tender, loving, suffering, self-giving God, and who made them
see, with the enlightened eyes of their heart, the divine possibilities
of human life.  Through this insight, they were the beginners of a new
type of Christianity, which has become wide-spread and impressive in
the modern world, a type that finds the supreme significance of
Christ's Life in His double revelation of the inherent nature of God,
and the immense value and potentiality of man, and that changes the
emphasis from schemes of salvation to interpretations of life, from the
magic significance of doctrine to the incalculable worth of the moral

These men were weak in historical sense, and, like everybody else in
their generation, they used Scripture without much critical insight.
But they hit upon a principle which saved them from slavery to texts,
and which gave them a working faith in the steady moral and spiritual
development of man.  I mean the principle that this Christ whom they
had discovered anew was an eternal manifestation of God, an immanent
Word of God, a Spirit brooding over the world of men, as in the
beginning over the face of the waters, present in the unfolding events
of history as well as in the far-away "dispensations of Grace."  As a
result, they grew less interested in the problem that had fascinated so
many mystics, the problem of the super-empirical evolution of the
divine Consciousness; the super-temporal differentiation of the unity
of the Godhead into a Father and Son and self-revealing Holy Ghost; and
they tried rather to appreciate and to declare the concrete revelation
through Christ, and {xli} the import of His visible and invisible
presence in the world.[29]

This approach of Faith, this appreciation of the nature of God as He
has been unveiled in the ethical processes of history, especially in
the Person of Christ, and in His expanding conquest of the world, must
always be one of the great factors of spiritual religion.  The profound
results of higher criticism, with its stern winnowings, have brought us
face to face with problems unknown to the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries.  So much of what seemed the solid continent of historical
truth has weathered and crumbled away that some have wondered whether
any irreducible nucleus would remain firm and permanent above the flood
of the years, and whether the religion of the future must not dispense
with the historical element, and the Faith-aspect that goes with it,
and rest wholly upon present inward experience.

There are, however, I believe, no indications worth considering, of the
disappearance of Jesus Christ from human history.  On the contrary, He
holds, as never before, the commanding place in history.  He still
dominates conscience, by the moral sway of His Life of Goodness, as
does no other Person who has ever lived; and by the attractive power of
His life and love He still sets men to living counter to the strong
thrust of instinct and impulse as does no one else who has ever touched
the springs of conduct.  The Faith-aspect is still a very live element
in religion, and it is, as it has been so often before, precisely the
aspect which supplies concrete body and filling and objective ethical
direction to our deep sub-conscious yearnings and strivings and

Once at least there shone through the thin veil of matter a personal
Life which brought another kind of world than this world of natural law
and utilitarian aims full into light.  There broke through here in the
face of Jesus {xlii} Christ a revelation of Purpose in the universe so
far beyond the vague trend of purpose dimly felt in slowly evolving
life that it is possible here to catch an illuminating vision of what
the goal of the long drama may be--the unveiling of sons of God.  Here
the discovery can be made that the deepest Reality toward which Reason
points, and which the mystical experience _feels_, is no vague
Something Beyond, but a living, loving Some One, dealing with us as
Person with person.  In Him there comes to focus in a Life that we can
love and appreciate a personal character which impresses us as being
absolutely good, and as being in its inexhaustible depth of Love and
Grace worthy to be taken as the revelation of the true nature of the
God whom all human hearts long for.  And finally through this personal
revelation of God in Christ there has come to us a clear insight that
pain and suffering and tragedy can be taken up into a self-chosen Life
and absorbed without spoiling its immense joy, and that precisely
through suffering-love, joyously accepted, a Person expressing in the
world the heart of God may become the moral and spiritual Saviour of
others.  As von Hugel has finely said: "A Person came and lived and
loved, and did and taught, and died and rose again, and lives on by His
power and His Spirit forever within us and amongst us, so unspeakably
rich and yet so simple, so sublime and yet so homely, so divinely above
us precisely in being so divinely near that His character and teaching
require, for an ever fuller yet never complete understanding, the
varying study, and different experiments and applications, embodiments
and unrollings of all the races and civilizations, of all the
individual and corporate, the simultaneous and successive experiences
of the human race to the end of time."[30]

The only salvation worth talking about is that which consists of an
inner process of moral transformation, through which one passes over
"the great divide" from a life that is self-centred and dominated by
impulse and sin to a life that is assured of divine forgiveness, that
has {xliii} conceived a passion for a redeemed inward nature, that is
conscious of help from beyond its own resources, and that is dedicated
to the task of making moral goodness triumph over the evil of the
world.  Any experience which brings to the soul a clear vision of the
moral significance of human life, and that engenders in us a practical
certainty that God is working with us in all our deepest undertakings,
tends to have saving efficacy and to bring about this inward
transformation.  But nowhere else in the universe--above us or within
us--has the moral significance of life come so full into sight, or the
reality of actual divine fellowship, whether in our aspirations or in
our failures, been raised to such a pitch of practical certainty as in
the personal life and death and resurrection and steady historical
triumph of Jesus Christ.  He exhibits in living fulness, with
transforming power, a Life which consciously felt itself one with the
heart and will of God.  He reveals the inherent blessedness of
Love--even though it may involve suffering and pain and death.  He
shows the moral supremacy, even in this imperfect empirical world, of
the perfectly good will, and He impresses those who _see_ Him--see Him,
I mean, with eyes that can penetrate through the temporal to the
eternal and find His real nature--as being the supreme personal
unveiling of God, as worthy to be our Leader, our Ideal Life, our
typical personal Character, and strong enough in His infinite Grace and
divine self-giving to convince us of the eternal co-operation of God
with our struggling humanity, and to settle our Faith in the essential
Saviourhood of God.

He who sees _that_ in Christ has found a real way to God and has
discovered a genuine way of salvation.  It is the way of Faith, but
Faith is no airy and unsubstantial road, no capricious leap.  There is
no kind of aimful living conceivable that does not involve faith in
something trans-subjective--faith in something not given in present
empirical experience.  Even in our most elementary life-adjustments
there is something operative in us which far underlies our conscious
perceiving and {xliv} the logic of our conclusions.  We are moved, not
alone by what we clearly picture and coldly analyse, but by deep-lying
instincts which defy analysis, by background and foreground fringes of
consciousness, by immanent and penetrative intelligence which cannot be
brought to definite focus, by the vast reservoirs of accumulated wisdom
through which we _feel_ the way to go, though we can pictorially
envisage no "spotted trees" that mark the trail.

This religious and saving Faith, through which the soul discovers God
and makes the supreme life-adjustment to Him, is profoundly moral and,
in the best sense of the word, rational.  It does not begin with an
assumption, blind or otherwise, as to Christ's metaphysical nature, it
does not depend upon the adoption of systematically formulated
doctrines; it becomes operative through the discovery of a personal
Life, historically lived--and continued through the centuries as a
transforming Spirit--rich enough in its experience to exhibit the
infinite significance of life, inwardly deep enough in its spiritual
resources to reveal the character of God, and strong enough in
sympathy, in tenderness, in patience, and in self-giving love to beget
forever trust and confidence and love on the part of all who thus find

The God whom we learn to know in Christ--the God historically
revealed--is no vague first Cause, no abstract Reality, no all-negating
Absolute.  He is a concrete Person, whose traits of character are
intensely moral and spiritual.  His will is no fateful swing of
mechanical law; it is a morally good will which works patiently and
forever toward a harmonized world, a Kingdom of God.  The central trait
of His character is Love.  He does not become Father, He is not
reconciled to us by persuasive offerings and sacrifices.  He is
inherently and by essential disposition Father and the God of all
Grace.  He is not remote and absentee--making a world "in the
beginning," and leaving it to run by law, or only occasionally
interrupting its normal processes--He is immanent Spirit, working
always, the God of beauty and organizing purpose.  He {xlv} is Life and
Light and Truth, an Immanuel God who can and does show Himself in a
personal Incarnation, and so exhibits the course and goal of the race.
The way of Faith is a way to God, and the religion of this type is as
properly _a first-hand religion_ as that of any other type.

I have, of course, by no means exhausted the types of mature religion.
There are other ways of approach to God, other roads by which the soul
finds the way home--"On the East three gates; on the North three gates;
on the South three gates; and on the West three gates"--and they will
continue to be sacred ways--_viae sacrae_--for those who travel them
and thus find their heart's desire.  What we should learn from this
brief study is that religion is too rich and complex an experience to
be squeezed down to some one isolated aspect of life or of
consciousness.  There are many ways to God and any way that actually
brings the soul to Him is a good way, but the best way is that one
which produces upon the imperfect personal life the profoundest saving
effects, the most dynamic moral reinforcement, and which brings into
sway over the will the goal of life most adequate for men like us in a
social world like ours.

For most of us no one way of approach--no single type of religion--is
quite sufficient for all the needs of our life.  Most of us are
fortunate enough to have at least moments when we feel in warm and
intimate _contact_ with a divine, enwrapping environment more real to
us than things of sense and of arithmetic, and when the infinite and
eternal is no less, but immeasurably more, sure than the finite and
temporal.  Most of us, again, succeed, at least on happy occasions of
mental health, in finding rational clues which carry us through the
maze of contingency and clock-time happenings, through the
imperfections of our slow successive events, to the One Great Now of
perfect Reality which explains the process, and we attain to an
intellectual love of God.  And in spite of the literary difficulties of
primitive narratives and of false trails which the historical Church
has again and again taken, almost any serious, earnest soul to-day
{xlvi} may find that divine Face, that infinitely deep and luminous
Personality who spoke as no man ever spake, who loved as none other
ever loved, who saw more in humanity than anybody else has ever seen,
and who felt as no other person ever has that He was one in heart and
mind and will with God; and having found Him, by a morally responsive
Faith which dominates and transforms the inward self, one has found God
as Companion, Friend, and Saviour.  Where all these ways converge, and
a soul enjoys the privilege of mystical contact, the compulsion of
rational insight, and the moral reinforcement of personal Faith in
Christ, religion comes to its consummate flower, and may with some
right be called "spiritual Religion."


The most radical step which these spiritual Reformers took--the step
which put them most strikingly out of line with the main course of the
Reformation--was their break with Protestant Theology.  They were not
satisfied with a programme which limited itself to a correction of
abuses, an abolition of mediaeval superstitions, and a shift of
external authority.  They were determined to go the whole way to a
Religion of inward life and power, to a Christianity whose only
authority should be its dynamic and spiritual authority.  They placed
as low an estimate on the saving value of orthodox systems of
theological formulation as the Protestant Reformers did on the saving
value of "works."  To the former, salvation was an affair neither of
"works" nor of what they called "notions," _i.e._ views, beliefs, or
creeds.  They are never weary of insisting that a person may go on
endless pilgrimages to holy places, he may repeat unnumbered
"paternosters," he may mortify his body to the verge of
self-destruction, and still be unsaved and unspiritual; so, too, he may
"believe" all the dogma of the most orthodox system of faith, he may
take on his lips the most sacred words of sound doctrine, and yet be
utterly alien {xlvii} to the kingdom of God, a stranger and a foreigner
to the spirit of Christ.  They were determined, therefore, to go
through to a deeper centre and to make only those things pivotal which
are absolutely essential to life and salvation.

They began their reconstruction of the meaning of salvation with (1) a
new and fresh interpretation of God, and (2) with a transformed
eschatology.  As I have already said, they re-discovered God through
Christ, and in terms of His revelation; and coming to God _this way_,
they saw at once that the prevailing interpretations of the atonement
were inadequate and unworthy.  God, they declared, is not a Suzerain,
treating men as his vassals, reckoning their sins up against them as
infinite debts to be paid off at last in a vast commercial transaction
only by the immeasurable price of a divine Life, given to pay the debt
which had involved the entire race in hopeless bankruptcy.  Nor, again,
in their thought is He a mighty Sovereign, meting out to the world
strict justice and holding all sin as flagrant disloyalty and appalling
violation of law, never to be forgiven until the full requirements of
sovereign justice are met and balanced and satisfied.  All this seemed
to them artificial and false.  Salvation, as they understand it, cannot
be conceived as escape from debt nor as the satisfaction of justice,
since it is a personal life-relationship with a personal God who is and
always was eternal Love.  God's universe, both outer and inner, is
loaded with moral significance, is meant for discipline, and therefore
it has its stern aspects and drives its lessons home with the
unswerving hammer of _consequences_.  But in the personal Heart of the
universe, Love and Tenderness and Sympathy and Forgiveness are supreme,
and every process and every instrument of salvation, in the divine
purpose, is vital, ethical, spiritual.

God has shown Himself as Father.  He has revealed the immeasurable
suffering which sin inflicts on love.  To find the Father-Heart; to cry
"Abba" in filial joy; to die to sin and to be born to love, is to be
saved.  Jacob Boehme gave this new conception of God, and its bearing
{xlviii} on the way of salvation, the most adequate expression that was
given by any of this group, but all these so-called spiritual Reformers
herein studied had reached the same insight at different levels of
adequacy.  Their return to a more vital conception of salvation, with
its emphasis on the value of personality, brought with it, too, a new
humanitarian spirit and a truer estimate of the worth of man.  As they
re-discovered the love of God, they also found again the gospel of love
and brotherhood which is woven into the very tissue of the original
gospel of divine Fatherhood.

Their revised eschatology was due, at least partly, to this altered
account of the character of God, but it was also partly due to their
profound tendency to deal with all matters of the soul in terms of life
and vital processes.  Heaven and Hell were no longer thought of as
terminal places, where the saved were everlastingly rewarded and the
lost forever punished.  Heaven and Hell were for them inward
conditions, states of the soul, the normal gravitation of the Spirit
toward its chosen centre.  Heaven and Hell cease, therefore, to be
eschatological in the true sense of the word; they become present
realities, tendencies of life, ways of reacting toward the things of
deepest import.  Heaven, whether here or in any other world, is the
condition of complete adjustment to the holy will of God; it is joy in
the prevalence of His goodness; peace through harmonious correspondence
with His purposes; the formation of a spirit of love, the creation of
an inward nature that loves what God loves and enjoys what He enjoys.

Hell, here or elsewhere, is a disordered life, out of adjustment with
the universal will of God; it is concentration upon self and self-ends;
the contraction of love; the shrinking of inward resources; the
formation of a spirit of hate, the creation of an inward nature that
hates what God loves.  Hell is the inner condition inherently attaching
to the kind of life that displays and exhibits the spirit and attitude
which must be overcome before God with His purposes of goodness can be
{xlix} ultimately triumphant and all in all.  Salvation, therefore,
cannot be thought of in terms of escape from a place that is dreaded to
a place that is desired as a haven.  It is through and through a
spiritual process--escape from a wrongly fashioned will to a will
rightly fashioned.  It is complete spiritual health and wholeness of
life, brought into operation and function by the soul's recovery of God
and by joyous correspondence with Him.

Here is the genuine beginning in modern times of what has come to be
the deepest note of present-day Christianity, _the appreciation of
personality as the highest thing in earth or heaven_, and the
initiation of a movement to find the vital sources and resources for
the inner kindling of the spirit, and for raising the whole personal
life to higher functions and to higher powers.

Putting the emphasis, as they did, on personal religion, _i.e._ on
experience, instead of on theology, they naturally became exponents of
free-will, and that, too, in a period when fore-ordination was a
central dogma of theology.  This problem of freedom, which is as deep
as personality itself, always has its answer "determined" by the point
of approach.  For those who _begin_ with an absolute and omnipotent
God, and work down from above, the necessarian position is determined.
Their answer is: "All events are infallibly connected with God's
disposal." For those who start, however, from actual experience and
from the testimony of consciousness, freedom feels as certain as life
itself.  Their answer is: "Human will is a real factor in the direction
of events and man shapes his own destiny toward good or evil."
Calvin's logic is irresistible if his assumptions are once granted.
These spiritual Reformers, however, were untouched by it, because they
began from the interior life, with its dramatic movements, as their
basal fact, and man as they knew him was free.

This spiritual movement involved, as a natural development, an entire
shift from the historical idea of the Church as an authoritative and
supernatural instrument of salvation, to a Church whose authority was
entirely vital, {l} ethical, spiritual, dynamic.  The Church of these
spiritual Reformers was a Fellowship, a Society, a Family, rather than
a mysterious and supernatural entity.  They felt once again, as
powerfully perhaps as it was possible in their centuries to feel it,
the immense significance of the Pauline conception of the Church as the
continued embodiment and revelation of Christ, the communion of saints
past and present who live or have lived by the Spirit.  Through this
spiritual group, part of whom are visible and part invisible, they held
that the divine revelation is continued and the eternal Word of God is
being uttered to the race.  "The true religion of Christ," as one of
these spiritual teachers well puts it, "is written in the soul and
spirit of man by the Spirit of God; and the believer is the only book
in which God now writes His New Testament."[31]  This Church of the
Spirit is always being built.  Its power is proportional to the
spiritual vitality of the membership, to the measure of apprehension of
divine resources, to the depth of insight and grasp of truth, to the
prevalence of love and brotherhood, to the character of service, which
the members exhibit.  It possesses no other kind of power or authority
than the power and authority of personal lives formed into a community
by living correspondence with God, and acting as human channels and
organs of His Life and Spirit.  Such a Church can meet new formulations
of science and history and social ideals with no authoritative and
conclusive word of God which automatically settles the issue.  Its only
weapons are truth and light, and these have to be continually
re-discovered and re-fashioned to fit the facts which the age has found
and verified.  Its mission is _prophetic_.  It does not dogmatically
decide what facts must be believed, but it sees and announces the
spiritual significance of the facts that are discovered and verified.
It was, thus, in their thought a growing, changing, ever-adjusting
body--the living body of Christ in the world.  To the Protestant
Reformers this spiritual ideal presented "a Church" so shorn and
emasculated as to be {li} absolutely worthless.  It seemed to them a
propaganda which threatened and endangered the mighty work of
reformation to which they felt themselves called, and they used all the
forces available to suppress and annihilate those of this other "way."

Nearly four hundred wonderful years have passed since the issue was
first drawn, since the first of these spiritual prophets uttered his
modest challenge.  There can be no question that the current of
Christian thought has been strongly setting in the direction which
these brave and sincere innovators took.  I feel confident that many
persons to-day will be interested in these lonely men and will follow
with sympathy their valiant struggles to discover the road to a genuine
spiritual religion, and their efforts to live by the eternal Word of
God as it was freely revealed as the Day Star to their souls.

[1] 1 Cor. xv. 50.

[2] 2 Cor. v. 1-4.

[3] John iii. 6.

[4] 1 John iv. 13; John xiii. 34 and xvi. 13; 1 John iv. 4.

[5] They found their authority for this outer sheath of body in the
text which says: "The Lord God made for Adam and for his wife coats of
skins, and clothed them."--Gen. iii. 21.

[6] Many of these historical reappearances are considered in my
_Studies in Mystical Religion_.

[7] Isaac Penington, "A True and Faithful Relation of my Spiritual
Travails," _Works_ (edition of 1761), i. pp. xxxvii.-xxxviii.

[8] Isaac Penington's _Works_, i. pp. xxxvii.-xxxviii.

[9] The exact and sharply-defined "ladders" of mystic ascent which form
a large part of the descriptive material in books on Mystical Religion
are far from being universal ladders.  Like creeds, or like religious
institutions, they powerfully assist certain minds to find the way
home, but they seem unreal and artificial to many other persons, and
they must be considered only as symbolisms which speak to the condition
of a limited number of spiritual pilgrims.

[10] Wordsworth's "Prelude," Bk. ii.

[11] _Theologia Germanica_, chaps. xxii. and xliii.

[12] _Ibid._ chap. liii.

[13] _Meister Eckhart_, Pfeiffer, p. 320. 20.

[14] Tauler's Sermons.  See especially Sermons IV. and XXIII. in
Hutton's _Inner Way_.

[15] _The Divine Names_ of Dionysius the Areopagite, chap. i. sec. i.

[16] _Meister Eckhart_, Pfeiffer, p. 320. 25-30.

[17] Quoted in W. H. J. Gairdner's _The Reproach of Islam_, p. 151.

[19] Denck's _Was geredet sey, dass die Schrift_, B. 2.  Pascal's
saying is: "Comfort thyself; thou wouldst not be seeking Me hadst thou
not already found Me."--Le Mystère de Jésus, sec. 2.

[19] _The Threefold Life of Man_, xiv. 72.

[20] Sterry's _Rise, Race, and Royalty of the Kingdom of God in the
Soul of Man_, p. 24.

[21] "The finite individual soul seems naturally to present a double
aspect.  It looks like, on the one hand, a climax or concentration of
the nature beneath it and the community around it, and, on the other
hand, a spark or fragment from what is above and beyond it.  It is
crystallized out of the collective soul of nature or society, or it
falls down from the transcendental soul of heaven or what is above
humanity.  In both cases alike it has its share of divinity."--Bernard
Bosanquet, _The Value and Destiny of the Individual_ (London, 1913), p.

[22] The way to the world of Perfect Reality, Socrates says in the
_Theaetetus_, consists in likeness to God, nor is there, he adds,
anything more like God than is a good man.--_Theaetetus_ 176 A and B.

[23] Schleiermacher's _Glaubenslehre_.

[24] _Republic_ vii. 518 B.

[25] Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey."

[26] _Realm of Ends_, p. 230.

[27] _Lectures and Addresses_, p. 193.

[28] Ella Wheeler Wilcox, _Poems of Life and Moments_.

[29] Jacob Boehme, however, shows this fascination for the
super-empirical at its height and culmination.  It was an attempt,
though a bungling attempt, to pass from an abstract God to a God of
_character_, and it was a circuitous way of getting round the problem
of evil.

[30] _Mystical Elements of Religion_, i. p. 26.

[31] William Dell's sermon on "The Trial of Spirits," _Works_, p. 438.





One of the greatest tragedies in Christian history is the division of
forces which occurred in the Reformation movements of the sixteenth
century.  Division of forces in the supreme spiritual undertakings of
the race is of course confined to no one century and to no one
movement; it is a very ancient tragedy.  But the tragedy of division is
often relieved by the fact that through the differentiation of opposing
parties a vigorous emphasis is placed upon aspects of truth which might
otherwise have been allowed to drop out of focus.  This
sixteenth-century division is peculiarly tragic, because through the
split in the lines the very aspects of truth which were most needed to
give the movement a steady increment of insight and power were lost in
the din and confusion of party warfare.

There was a short but glorious period--the years from 1517 to
1523--during which it seemed as though the spiritual and intellectual
travail of the three preceding centuries was to consummate in the birth
of a movement that would draw together and unify all the liberating
forces which had slowly become available.  The Humanists of the
Renaissance, no less than Columbus, were finding a new world.[1]  They
had boldly travelled out beyond the {2} boundaries which the medieval
mind had set to human interests, and had discovered that man was more
than the abstract being whose "soul" had alone concerned ecclesiastics
and schoolmen.  Man, the Humanists saw, is possessed in his own right
of great powers of reason.  He is a creative and autonomous being, he
has vast capacities for life and enjoyment to which the Church had
failed to minister.  They stood amazed at the artistic and literary
culture, the political and intellectual freedom and the great richness
of life which the newly discovered classical literature revealed as
having existed in the pre-Christian world, and at the wonderful
comprehension of life revealed in the Gospels.  With commendable
passion they proposed to refresh and reshape the world through the new
models, the new ideals, and the new spirit which they had discovered.
First of all they would wipe out the old Augustinian cleavage which had
carried its sharp dualism wherever it ran.  They would no longer
recognize the double world scheme--a divine realm set over against an
undivine realm, the "sacred" set over against the "secular," the
spiritual set over against the natural, the Church set against the
world, faith set in contrast to reason, the spirit pitted against the
flesh, "the other world" put in such light that "this world" by
contrast lay dull in the shadow.  Those who were broadened and
liberated by the new learning found not only a new world in classical
literature, but they also found a new gospel in the Gospel.  As they
studied the New Testament documents themselves and became freed from
the bondage of tradition they discovered that the primitive message
dealt with life and action rather than with theology.  They found the
key to the Gospel in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Parables of
Jesus, and they shifted the emphasis from doctrine to ethics.  This
change of emphasis quite naturally involved another change.  It brought
man into greater prominence, and the Church as an ecclesiastical system
into less prominence; for life, they discovered, was settled in the
teaching of Christ by the {3} attitude of the will and by the formation
of character, rather than by the mediation of a priesthood external to
man.  "I wish," Erasmus wrote to Capito in 1518, "that there could be
an end of scholastic subtleties, or, if not an end, that they could be
thrust into a second place and Christ be taught plainly and simply.
The reading of the Bible and the early Fathers will have this effect.
Doctrines are taught now which have no affinity with Christ, and only
darken our eyes."[2]  Again in 1521 he wrote to a friend, words which
appear again and again in his letters: "It would be well for us if we
thought less about our dogmas and more about the gospel,"[3] or, as he
often puts it, "if we made less of dogmatic subtleties and more of
Scripture."  So far as Humanism was a religious force it was pushing
toward a religion of the lay-type, with man himself--man with his
momentous will--as the centre of interest.

Another important influence was slowly but pervasively filtering down
into the life of the people and preparing the way for a religion of
greater personal vitality and spiritual inwardness; I mean the
testimony of the great mystics.  One has only to study the life and
writings of such a scholar as Nicolaus Chrypffs--generally called
Cusanus, or Nicholas of Cusa--who died shortly before Luther was
born,[4] to see what a live force the mystical teaching was even in
this period of Renaissance.  God is for him, as for his great masters,
Plotinus, Erigena, Eckhart, and Tauler, the infinite and indescribable
subsoil of the universe, in whose Reality all the roots of life and all
the reality of things are grounded.  The soul, by nature spiritual and
immortal, at its apex rises above the contradictions which lower
knowledge everywhere meets and comes into possession, by a "learned
ignorance," of Truth itself and into an unspeakable union with God.
But it was not merely among scholars like Nicholas that mysticism
formed the elemental basis of life and thought; it had, through the
circles of the {4} "Brothers of the Common Life,"[5] and through such
masterpieces as the _Imitation of Christ_, the _Theologia Germanica_,
and the Sermons of Eckhart and of John Tauler, become a part of the
spiritual atmosphere which serious-minded men breathed.  Every one of
the men who belong in my list of "Spiritual Reformers" read and loved
"the golden book of German Theology," and most of them knew the other
writings of the great fourteenth-century mystics.  There are
unmistakable evidences of a subtle formative influence from these rich
sources, which explains the simultaneous sporadic outbreak of similar
views in widely sundered places.

There was, thus, abroad at the opening of the Reformation a deep
yearning among serious people for a religion of inward experience, a
religion based not on proof-texts nor on external authority of any
kind, but on the native capacity of the soul to seek, to find and to
enjoy the living God who is the Root and Sap of every twig and branch
of the great tree of life.  The general trend of this mystical
tendency, as also of the Humanistic movement, was in the direction of
lay-religion, and both movements alike emphasized the inherent and
native capacity of man, whose destiny by his free choice is in his own

There were, too, at work many other deep-lying tendencies away from the
bondage and traditions of the past; aspiration for economic and social
reforms to liberate the common people and give them some real chance to
be persons--tendencies which all the Reformers treated in this book
deeply felt and shared.

All these movements toward intellectual, spiritual, and social freedom
seemed at first to find their champion in the dynamic hero, whose
ninety-five theses on the door at Wittenberg shook the world awake in
1517.  He was by birth and spirit a child of the people--"ein Kind des
Volkes"--and he seemed to be a prophet, divinely called to voice their
dumb aspirations.  He possessed, {5} like all great prophets, a
straightforward moral honesty and sincerity, an absolute fearlessness,
a magnetic and commanding personality, an unusual mastery of the
vernacular speech, and an abundant power of pathos, humour, and satire.
All the world loves a hero who can say in the face of real danger, "I
would go forward to Worms if there were as many devils there as there
are tiles on the roof!" or again, "I would go to Leipzig if it rained
Duke Georges for nine days running!"[6]

He had, too, unusual religious depth and power which sprang, as in the
case of the great mystics, from a profound inward experience.  Luther,
like St. Paul and St. Augustine, and many another spiritual guide of
the race, came upon his supreme insights in sudden epoch-making
revelations or illuminations by which he found himself on a new level,
with the line of march shifted and all values altered.  His conversion
and dedication to religion was an instance of this type.  So, too, was
his discovery of the way of Faith.  Legend has very likely coloured our
accounts of this experience, but for purposes of valuation it is of
little moment to us whether the dynamic flash came to him in his cell
at Wittenberg as he was studying the Epistle to the Romans, or whether
it came while he was climbing the penitential stairway in Rome.[7] When
all legendary coverings are stripped away we have left an inner event
of the first importance, a _live idea_ bursting into consciousness like
a new star on the field of vision.  By processes much deeper and richer
than those of logical argument, his mind leaped to the certainty of
infinite grace and forgiving love in God as revealed in Christ.  In a
word, this baffled and despairing monk, striving in vain to heap up
merits enough to win {6} divine favour, suddenly discovered a new God
who filled his whole world with a new light and freedom and joy.  His
name for this discovery was Faith ["Glaube"], but Faith in its first
intention for Luther meant a personal experience or discovery of God,
brought into full view and clear apprehension in Christ.  "No one can
understand God or God's Word," Luther once wrote, "unless he has it
revealed immediately ["on Mittel"] by the Holy Ghost, but nobody can
receive anything from the Holy Ghost unless he experiences it.  In
experience the Holy Ghost teaches as in His own school, outside of
which nothing of value can be learned."[8]

Not only was Faith for Luther thus possessed of a mystical character as
an inward discovery and as a personal experience which laid hold on God
immediately, but it also owed its illuminating birth in his
consciousness largely to the influence of the writings and the lives of
the mystics.  However suddenly the "revelation" seemed to burst into
his mind, there had nevertheless been a long period of psychological
gestation and preparation for it before the epoch-making moment finally
came.  He had already in his early convent days come under the spell of
St. Augustine, St. Bernard, Gerson, and many another guide into the
deep regions of inward personal religion, and his intimate friend, the
Vicar-general Staupitz, had been to him in some sense a personal
embodiment of this type of religion.  But the German mystics of the
fourteenth century, with their mighty experience and their
extraordinary depth, carried him still farther in this direction.  He
was so enthusiastic over that beautiful anonymous classic of mystical
religion, the _Theologia Germanica_, that he twice edited and published
it, declaring in his Preface that he had learned from it "more of what
God and Christ and man and all things are" than from any other book
except the Bible and St. Augustine.  John Tauler, the great Dominican
preacher of Strasbourg, impressed him no less profoundly.  "Neither in
the Latin nor the German language," he {7} wrote to Spalatin in 1516,
"have I ever found purer or more wholesome teaching, nor any that so
agrees with the Gospel."  Both these great teachers of spiritual
religion helped him to see that complete confidence in and surrender to
the will of God is salvation--"Put off thy own will and there will be
no hell."

In Luther's earlier writings we come frequently upon passages which
reveal the way in which experience still saturates Faith for him, and
which exhibit the mystical depth of his Christianity at this period.
Commenting on the phrase, "Christ liveth in me" (Gal. ii. 20), in his
_Commentary on Galatians_[9] he says, "He [Christ] is my form, my
furniture, and perfection, adorning and beautifying my faith as the
colour, the clear light, the whiteness, do garnish and beautify the
wall.  Thus are we constrained grossly to set forth this matter.  For
we cannot _conceive_ that Christ is so nearly joined and united unto us
as the colour or whiteness is unto the wall.  But Christ thus joined
and united unto me and abiding in me, liveth this life in me which now
I live; yea, Christ Himself is this life which now I live.  Wherefore
Christ and I in this behalf are both one."[10]  And in a famous passage
in the tract "On Christian Liberty," he declares that "Faith has the
incomparable grace of uniting the soul to Christ as bride to husband,
so that the soul possesses whatever Christ Himself possesses."

Not only was this Luther of the early period the hero of the people and
the prophet of a deep and inward religion, he seemed also to have
found, even more emphatically than had the Humanists, a far-reaching
principle of individualism which took the key from the Church and put
it into the hands of the Christian man himself.  Salvation in its
essence, he sees, is conferred upon no one from without.  The soul is
dependent for it upon no organization, no traditions, no dogma, no
sacred performances.  It is a transaction between the {8} individual
soul and God, and the person who lays hold on God in living faith
thereby has salvation, assurance, and joy.  With this principle of
individualism there came naturally to Luther a new conception of the
Church altogether.[11]  It was for him, in ideal at least, a community
or congregation ["Gemeinde"] of believers, each member a spiritual
priest, ministering to the spiritual and social life of all: "I believe
that there is on earth, wide as the world is, not more than one holy
universal Christian Church, which is nothing else than the community or
assembly of the saints. . . .  I believe that in this community or
Christendom, all things are common, and each one shares the goods of
the others and none calls anything his own.  Therefore all the prayers
and good works of the entire community help me and every believer, and
support and strengthen us at every time in life and in death."[12]

This ideal of a priesthood of believers, ministering to each other in
mutual service and practising neighbourly love in daily life, would, if
it had been actually carried into effect, have marked a great step in
the direction in which the Humanists were going, namely, the transfer
of the emphasis from dogma to life, from doctrine to ethics, from
ecclesiasticism to personality.  Luther's great discovery that personal
faith is the only thing which counts toward God, and that love and
service are the only things in the human sphere which have religious
significance would have introduced, if it had been put full into play,
a new era of personal freedom and a new stage in the progress of the
Kingdom of God as a world-wide brotherhood of men engaged in mutual



But the young Luther of these glowing ideals is not the actual Luther
of the Protestant Reformation, any more than the Augustine of the
mighty spiritual experiences portrayed in the _Confessions_ is the St.
Augustine of history.  The historical Luther had the hero-spirit in him
in high degree; he had mystical depth and inward experience as we have
seen, and he possessed the prophetic power of vision and forereach
which makes him often seem far in advance of his time; but these
dynamic traits were more than overbalanced by his fundamentally
conservative disposition and by his determination not to go faster or
farther than he could carry Germany, especially the nobility, with him.
He was, in a very real sense, a child of his time, a product of
medieval Europe, and he never succeeded in liberating himself from the
tight swaddling-bands in which his youth was wrapped.  He could not
comprehend, as we shall see, the bold spirits who were dedicated to the
task of reinterpreting Christianity in terms of the new age; he loved
the old, in so far as it seemed to him unspoiled by apostacy and
corruption, and he naturally kept reverting to the ancient dogma and
the accepted theology of the old Church instead of leading the way into
a fresh, vital, spiritual form of Christianity adapted to the social
aspiration of the time.

In spite of the fact that Luther knew and loved the German mystics and
had himself received a powerful inward experience of Christ as the
bridegroom of his soul--an experience which quickened all the forces of
his will and raised him to the rank of a world-hero--nevertheless his
normal tendency was toward a non-mystical type of Christianity, toward
a Christianity thoroughly based on Scripture, logically constructed out
of concepts of the nature of God and Man, so ancient, sacred, and
orthodox, that they seemed to him axioms of theology and capable of
being formulated into a saving {10} system of truth, as universal and
as unalterable as the multiplication table.

However unconscious Luther himself may have been of the shift of
emphasis that was taking place in him as the movement progressed, the
historical observer has no difficulty in noting the change from the
Luther who is endeavouring to sound the deeps of life itself, and whose
religion is the creation of the inward stream of life within him; and
the Luther who wanders far afield from experience, draws curious
conclusions from unverified concepts, piles text on text as though
heaven could be scaled by another Pelion on Ossa, and once more turns
religion back to the cooled lava-beds of theology.  He never could
succeed in getting the God of his heart's glowing faith into the
theologies which he laboriously builded.  As soon as he started
constructing he invariably fell back upon the building-material which
had already been quarried, and which lay at hand.  His experimental
Faith discovered a God of all Grace, but his inherited _concept_ of
God, the God of the Old Testament and of theology, was vastly
different, and remained to the end unrevolutionized by his heart's
insight.  This background conception of God comes to extreme expression
in his _De servo arbitrio_ ["The Unfree Will"] of 1525: "This is the
acme of faith, to believe that God who saves so few and condemns so
many is merciful; that He is just who at His own pleasure has made us
necessarily doomed to damnation, so that . . . He seems to delight in
the tortures of the wretched and to be more deserving of hatred than of
love.  _If by any effort of reason I could conceive how God, who shows
so much anger and harshness, could be merciful and just, there would be
no need of faith._"  There could, in his thought, be no salvation for
man, no hope, and no joy, until some way of escape was found from the
stern judgments of this angry and wrathful God.  This way of escape is
found in what Luther calls "the Word of God," by which he means "the
Gospel of God concerning His Son, incarnate, suffering, risen, and
glorified."[13] {11} This Word of God is for him the sum total of "the
promises that God is _for us_": "the pure Gospel" of a pardoning,
forgiving God; the revelation in the Cross of Christ that no self-merit
counts or is needed, but that on Christ's account God forgives the
sinner and bestows His Grace upon him.

Speaking theologically, Faith consists in believing in the God whom
Christ has historically revealed--believing without any doubt that He
will be and will do to us according to the things which are said of Him
in "the Word of God."  It must be said that for Luther himself, Faith
was an "active, powerful thing," "a deliberate confidence in the grace
of God," which made him "joyous and intrepid" and "for which he could
die a thousand deaths";[14] but there was always an irresistible
tendency in the Lutheran teaching for faith to drop to the lower level
of doctrine, and to consist in the acceptance of a scheme of

This tendency was, I say, easy and irresistible just because Luther did
not normally and naturally think of God as being inherently and
essentially loving, gracious, tender, and forgiving, that is to say,
_fundamentally a Father_ and in his deepest nature like the self-giving
Christ.  For him, as for so many other theologians, God _becomes_
forgiving and gracious on account of Christ's merit and righteousness
and thus no longer imputes sin to us.  Because of what Christ did, God
now beholds us with an attitude of mercy, grace, and forgiveness, and,
on condition of our faith, imputes to us the righteousness of Christ.
Salvation is, thus, a plan by which we escape from the God of justice
and wrath and have our dealings with a God who has become merciful
because our sin has been balanced off by somebody else's merit and

Not only did Luther continue this medieval fiction of God's nature and
character, he had also always in mind a fictitious and constructed
"man."  Man for him is a being devoid of "merit," a creature whose
personal {12} goodness in and of itself is of no value.  Even Faith
itself, by which salvation is received, is not an attitude or function
of man's own will or reason.  It is, like everything else connected
with salvation, something divinely given, supernaturally initiated, a
work of God, an _opus operatum_--"Mit unserer Macht ist nichts
gethan"--and therefore "faith" and "reason" belong in totally different
compartments of the human being.  Nor, furthermore, when he is absorbed
with his system, is salvation ever synonymous for him with an
inwardly-transformed and spiritually-renewed self.  Salvation means for
him _certainty of divine favour_.  It does not inherently carry with it
and involve in its intrinsic meaning a new life, a joyous adjustment of
will to the Will of God.  If man is to attain to a moral transformation
of life, he must receive an added gift of supernatural grace, that is,
the power of sanctification through the Holy Spirit.  This conception
made it impossible for him to look for the coming of a divine kingdom
by slow processes now at work in the world.

Luther did not intend to make the "Word of God" synonymous with the
Scriptures, and in his great Prefaces to St. Paul's _Epistles_ he does
not identify the two.  The Word of God is, as we have seen, the
revelation, the message, the gospel, of Grace through Christ Jesus,
wherever expressed, enunciated, or preached.  But the pledged Word of
God found in the Scriptures seemed to him the main miracle of the ages,
and as, in his contests with Zwickau "Prophets," "Anabaptists," and
"Spiritualists," he found himself forced to produce a fixed touchstone
of faith and a solid authority to take the place left vacant by the Old
Church, he swung naturally toward the dogma of the absolute authority
of Scripture, and he laid, without wishing to do so, the foundation for
the view of the second generation of Protestantism, that the infallible
Scripture is God's final communication to helpless man, and is the
ultimate and only basis of authority in religion.

His conception of the sacraments in like manner, {13} because of his
crude supernaturalism and his inadequate intellectual and spiritual
penetration, drifted to a semi-medieval view.  He intended to transform
these ceremonies and to have them fit "the pure Word of God."  In his
primary _intention_ they were to be no longer objective works of grace,
but were to have a subjective value only, a faith-significance.  They
were to be conceived as pictorial, symbolic ways of learning the one
important truth of salvation--God's grace and forgiveness; for God
deigns, he said, to speak to his immature creatures by signs and
pictures.  But the imperial sway of the past powerfully moved him; his
own conservative disposition carried him along paths which an
enlightened reason would not have taken, and the heat of the
controversy often blinded him to some of the precious truths that had
seemed clear to him in the creative period of Faith.  In the bitter
controversy with the "spiritual prophets" on the question of
sacraments, he wrote words which seem strangely out of harmony with his
earlier views and with his own experience: "External things in religion
must precede internal experiences which come through [_i.e._ are
mediated by] external things, for God has resolved to give nobody the
internal gifts except through the external things.  He will give nobody
the Spirit and Faith without the use of external word and sign."[15]
Without meaning to surrender the precious jewel of a religion
spiritually grounded, he once more introduced "the awful mystery" of
the sacraments, and opened the door for the conception of the rite as
an _opus operatum_--a grace of God objectively real.  He retained
infant baptism as _an efficacious act_, and, obsessed as he was by the
literal words, _Hoc est corpus_--"this is my body"--he went back into
the abandoned path of scholasticism,[16] and restored the mysterious
and miraculous real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.[17]  It is
true, as Loofs has said, that {14} "Luther re-discovered Christianity
as religion," but it is also unfortunately true as well that he lacked
the insight, faith, and boldness of spirit to trust the people of his
age and of the future with "Christianity as religion," and instead gave
them a Christianity theologically constructed, deeply marred with
residual superstitions and mysteries, and heavily laden with the
inheritances of dark and medieval ages.


There are two types of religious genius, both of which play great roles
in history.  There is first the genius who, inspired by the ideal of
some earlier prophet, or made wise because he has himself discovered
the trend of celestial currents, sees through the complex and tangle of
his time, and forecasts a truth which all men in a happier coming age
will recognize.  When he has once seen it, this vision transforms all
his ideas and aims, and spoils forever for him all meaner gains, all
half truths, all goods which must be won through surrender of a
possible better.  He will be obedient to that vision regardless of all
cost.  He will bear witness to the full light which he has seen even
though he can compel nobody else in the heedless world of his
generation to see it.  He may only cry in the wilderness, but at all
events he will _cry_, and he will cry of that highest thing his heart

There is, on the other hand, the genius who understands his own age
like an open book.  He is almost hypersensitive to the movings of his
time.  He feels the silent yearnings and strivings of the dumb
multitudes about him; he anticipates in his thought what the rest are
incipiently thinking--he is the clear voice and oracle of the spirit of
his age.  He knows to a nicety how far his contemporaries will allow
themselves to be carried.  {15} He will not over-hurry, he will not
outrun their possible speed, and he will sacrifice everything to carry
his epoch with him toward the goal which he sees.  He is contented to
keep his roots deep in the past, and he tempers all his creative
insights with a judicious mixture of the experience of the past and the
ideas which time has made sacred.  He will not satisfy the idealist who
wants leaps, and he will not please the radical in any period; but if
he is brave, wise, and sincere, and, withal, possessed of rare gifts of
interpretation and unusual powers of leadership, he may be able to
shape the course of history no less effectively, perhaps more surely,
than the genius who insists upon an immediate march straight across
country to Canaan the moment he glimpses it from his Pisgah.

Luther was a reformer of this second type.  He was beset by very real
limitations.  Dr. McGiffert does not overstate the facts when he says:
"He cared little for clearness and consistency of thought.  A
satisfactory and adequate world-view was not of his concern.  Of
intellectual curiosity he had scarcely any; of interest in truth for
truth's sake none at all. . . .  He remained entirely without
intellectual difficulties, finding no trouble with the most extreme
supernaturalism."[18]  In many respects, as Harnack has insisted, his
Christianity was a "medieval phenomenon."[19]  Only in one thing was he
supremely the master of his age and the hero of a new time--in his
discovery of a way of Faith which makes a man "intrepid" even in the
wreck of worlds and "in a thousand deaths."  On the lower levels of
life, where most of his work was done, he was strangely under the sway
of the past, a distruster of reason, a restorer of ancient doctrine, a
conservative in thought and action, a friend of rulers, a guardian, as
far as he could be, of the _status quo_--a leader who anathematized
radicals and enthusiasts and who staved off and postponed for nearly
four hundred years the truly liberating and thoroughly {16} adequate
reformation.  He was determined to be the repairer of the "Old Church,"
not the builder of a "New Church," and he was resolved not to travel
farther nor faster than the substantial men of his time considered safe
and wise.

But less was perhaps more.  There will at least always be those who
think that the sinuous way of progress is the most certain way of
advance.  The slow incline, the gradual spiral, each wind of the curve
"ever not quite" the old level--that is the most approved method of
leaving an outworn past and of moving forward into a new stage of
history.  It may be so.  It certainly is true that through Luther's
_insight_ new reliance upon God came to men, new energy of faith was
won, and by his work of repair, conservative and cautious though it
was, in the long sweep of time a liberated Christianity has come, a
vital social gospel has become effective, and great vistas of progress
are opening out before the Church of Christ.  But it is impossible to
forget that other group--those men of the other type--who even in
Luther's day saw the way straight across into Canaan, the men who saw
their vision fade away unrealized, and who failed to behold the fruit
of their spiritual travail largely because Luther misunderstood them,
refused to give them aid and comfort, and finally helped to marshal the
forces which submerged them and postponed their victory.  We may not
blame him, but it is not fair to these heroic souls that they should
longer lie submerged in the oblivion of their defeat.  I shall try in
these pages to bring up into the light the principles and ideas which
they proclaimed to Europe, perhaps ahead of their time.

[1] In the South the movement showed a tendency to drift back into a
refined paganism.  In the North, however, it was deeply Christian in
interest, in feeling, and in its moral aspirations.  Erasmus was by far
the greatest figure and the most influential person in the group of
Humanists of this latter type.

[2] Epistle CCVII.

[3] Epistle DLXXXVII.

[4] 1401-1464.

[5] Nicholas belonged to one of these circles.  "The Brethren of the
Common Life" are treated in my _Studies in Mystical Religion_, chap.

[6] Letter to the Elector Frederick, March 5, 1522.

[7] The story that Luther, climbing the _Scala Santa_ in 1510, suddenly
was impressed by the words, "The just shall live by faith," is based on
a reminiscence of Luther's son Paul.  Luther's own reference to the
ascent of the _Scala Santa_ makes no allusion to any such experience.
He merely says that when he reached the top of the stairs, which he
climbed in the hope of getting the soul of an ancestor out of
Purgatory, he thought to himself, "Who knows whether this prayer will
avail?"  Luther began his lectures on _Romans_ in 1515, and his dynamic
experience probably belongs near this date.

[8] Preface to the _Magnificat_ written in 1521.

[9] First given as Lectures in 1516-17, and published in 1519.

[10] A _Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians_.

[11] Dilthey says in _Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie_, Bd. v.
Heft 3, p. 358: "The Justification of which the medieval man had inward
experience was the descending stream of objective forces upon the
believer from the transcendental world, through the Incarnation, in the
channels of the ecclesiastical institutions, priestly consecration,
sacraments, confession, and works.  It was something which took place
in connection with a super-sensible regime.  The Justification by faith
of which Luther was inwardly aware was the personal experience of the
believer standing in the continuous line of Christian fellowship, by
whom assurance of the Grace of God is experienced in response to
personal faith, an experience derived from the appropriation of the
work of Christ."

[12] _Sämmtliche Werke_ (Erlangen edition), xxii. p. 20.

[13] On Christian Liberty, _Primary Works_, p. 106.

[14] See his Preface to _The Epistle to the Romans_.

[15] _Wider die himlichen Propheten vom Sacrament_, ii. Anno 1525.

[16] See P. Loofs, _Dogmengeschichte_ (Vierte Auflage, 1906), pp.

[17] In his instructions to Melanchthon for the Cassel Conference with
Butzer in 1534, Luther said, "In and with the bread, the body of Christ
is truly partaken of, accordingly all that takes place actively and
passively in the bread takes place actively and passively in the body
of Christ and the latter is distributed, eaten and masticated with the

[18] McGiffert, _Protestant Thought before Kant_ (1911), p. 20.  See
also the same view in Troeltsch, _Protestantisches Christentum und
Kirche in der Neuzeit_ (2nd Auflage), p. 481.

[19] _History of Dogma_, vii. p. 169.




Hans Denck has generally been enrolled among the Anabaptists, and it is
possible to use that name of scorn with such a latitude and looseness
that it includes not only Denck but all the sixteenth-century exponents
of a free, inward religion.  Anabaptism has often been treated as a
sort of broad banyan-tree which flourished exuberantly and shot out
far-reaching branches of very varied characters, but which held in one
organic unity all the branches that found soil and took root.  A name
of such looseness and covering capacity is, however, of little worth,
and it would promote historical accuracy if we should confine the term
to those who opposed infant baptism and who insisted instead upon adult
baptism, not as a means of Grace, but as a visible sign of the covenant
of man with God.  The further characteristic marks which may be
selected to differentiate Anabaptism from other movements of the period

1.  The treatment of the Gospel as a new law to be literally followed
and obeyed by all who are to have the right to be called "saints."

2.  The true Church is a _visible_ Church, the community of the saints,
founded by covenant, with adult baptism as its sign, formed exactly on
the pattern of the apostolic {18} Church and preserved in strict purity
by rigorous church discipline; and

3.  The denial to magistrates of all power to persecute men for their
faith and doctrine on the ground that the Gospel gives them no such
authority--its great commandment being love.[2]

Hans Denck, though in his early period of activity closely identified
with this movement and regarded as one of its chief leaders in Germany,
does not properly belong, however, to the banyan-tree of Anabaptism.
His writings reveal ideas and tendencies of such enlarged scope that it
appears clear that he had discovered and was teaching another type of
Christianity altogether.[3]  He is the earliest exponent in the
sixteenth century of a fresh and unique type of religion, deeply
influenced by the mystics of a former time, but even more profoundly
moulded by the new humanistic conceptions of man's real nature.

There are few biographical details of Denck's life available.  He was,
most probably, a native of Bavaria,[4] and he was born about the year
1495.  He studied in the University of Ingolstadt, where he was
admitted among the baccalaureates in 1517.[5]  In the year 1520 we
catch a glimpse of him in close association with the Humanists of
Augsburg.[6]  In 1522 he was at work in Basle as proof-reader for the
famous publisher, Valentin Curio, and was living in intimate fellowship
with the great scholar OEcolampadius, whose lectures on the Prophet
Isaiah he heard.[7]  In the autumn of the same year, on the
recommendation of OEcolampadius, he was appointed Director of St.
Sebald's School in Nuremberg, which was then the foremost seat of
learning in that city, {19} a great centre of classical humanistic
studies.  During the first period of his life in Nuremberg he was
closely identified with the Lutheran movement, but he soon shifted his
sympathies, and aligned himself with the radical tendencies which at
this period were championed in Nuremberg by Thomas Münzer, who, in
spite of his misguided leadership and fanatical traits, had discovered
a genuine religious principle that was destined to become significant
in safer hands.[8]  Münzer read Tauler's sermons from his youth up; in
his own copy of these sermons, preserved in the library at Gera, a
marginal note says that he read them almost continually, and that here
he learned of a divine interior Teaching.  It was Münzer's teaching of
the living Voice of God in the soul, his testimony to the reality of
the inner heavenly Word, which God Himself speaks in the deeps of man's
heart, that won the Humanist and teacher of St. Sebald's School to the
new and perilous cause.  He also formed a close friendship with Ludwig
Hetzer, who, like Münzer, taught that the saving Word of God must be
inward, and that the Scriptures can be understood only by those who
belong to the School of Christ.  Having once caught the _idea_ from
these impassioned leaders, Denck proceeded directly to work it out and
to develop its implications in his own fashion.  He was himself sane,
clear-minded, modest, sincere, far-removed from fanaticism, and eager
only to find a form of religion which would fit the eternal nature of
things on the one hand, and the true nature of man on the other--man, I
mean, as the Humanist conceived him.[9]

Already in this Nuremberg period, Denck became fully convinced that
Luther's doctrine of sin and justification was an artificial
construction--_Einbildung_--and that his conception of Scripture and
the Sacraments was destined to clamp the new-found faith in iron bonds,
tie it to outworn tradition, and make it incapable of a progressive
{20} and vital unfolding.  He declared in his testimony or "confession"
to the city council of Nuremberg in 1524, that although he had not yet
a full experience of the inward, powerful Word of God, he distinctly
felt its life as an inner witness which God had planted within him, a
spark of the Divine Light breaking into his own soul, and in the
strength of this direct experience he denied the value of external
ceremonies, and declared that even the Bible itself cannot bring men to
God without the assistance of this inner Light and Spirit.[10]

As a result of this change of attitude, the schoolmaster of St.
Sebald's was banished from the city of Nuremberg, January 21, 1525, and
from this time until his early death he was homeless and a wanderer.
He spent some months--between September 1525 and October 1526--in
Augsburg endeavouring to organize and direct the rapidly expanding
forces of the liberal movement.  He was during these months, and
especially during the period of the great Anabaptist synod which was
held at this time in Augsburg, endeavouring to give the chaotic
movement of Anabaptism a definite direction, with the main emphasis on
the mystical aspect of religion.  He hoped to call a halt to the vague
socialistic dreams and the fanatical tendencies that put the movement
in constant jeopardy and peril, and he was striving to call his
brotherhood to an inner religion, grounded on the inherent nature of
the soul, and guided by the inner Word rather than on "a new law" set
forth in the written word.  There were, however, too many eddies and
currents to be mastered by one mind, too many varieties of faith to be
unified under one principle, and Denck's own view was too intangible,
inward, and spiritual, to satisfy the enthusiasm either of the seething
masses or of {21} the leaders who saw a new Jerusalem just ready to
come down out of heaven from God.[11]

After the Augsburg period, Denck spent some time in Strasbourg, where
he gained many followers.  Capito bears testimony at this time to the
purity of Denck's life, to his moderation and goodwill, and to the
impressive effect of his preaching and teaching upon the people of the
city.[12]  Vadian, the Humanist and reformer of St. Gall, too, in spite
of his disapproval of some of Denck's ideas, speaking of him in
retrospect after his death, called him "a most gifted youth, possessed
of all excellencies."  But his teaching was too strange and unusual to
be allowed currency even in free Strasbourg.  After being granted a
public discussion he was ordered to leave the city forthwith.  During a
short stay in Worms, following the Strasbourg period, in collaboration
with Ludwig Hetzer, they brought to a successful conclusion a German
translation of the Prophets from the Hebrew, a work which Hetzer had
begun.  This important piece of scholarly work was published under the
title, _Alle Propheten nach hebräischer Sprache verteutscht_, in Worms,
April 3, 1527, and had a wide circulation and use, its main demerit
being that it had been done by "Anabaptists."

Pursued on every hand, hunted from place to place, he finally sought
peace and shelter with his old friend, the teacher who had first
inspired him in his youth, OEcolampadius, and here in Basle in a quiet
retreat, he died of the plague in November 1527, hardly more than
thirty-two years of age.[13]

We must now turn to the little books of this persecuted and homeless
Humanist to see what his religious teaching really was, and to discover
the foundation principle which lay at the root of all the endeavours of
this period to launch a Christianity grounded primarily on the {22}
fundamental nature of man.[14]  Denck writes like a man with a
message--straight to the mark, lucid, vivid, and intense.  He believes
what he says and he wants others to see it and believe it.  His
writings are entirely free from the controversial temper, and they
breathe throughout the spirit of tolerance and charity.  He knows when
to stop, and brings his books to an end as soon as he has made his
points clear.  The fundamental fact of man's nature for Denck is
personal _freedom_.  Starting with no theological presuppositions he is
under no obligation to make the primary assumption common to all
Augustinian systems that man is devoid of any native capacities which
have to do with spiritual salvation.  He begins instead with man as he
knows him--a sadly marred and hampered being, but still possessed of a
potentially Divine nature, and capable of co-operating, by inward
choices and decisions, with the ceaseless effort of God to win him
completely to Himself.  His little book, _What does it mean when the
Scripture says God does and works Good and Evil_, is throughout a
protest against the idea of "election," which, he says, involves "a
limitation of the Love of God," and it is a penetrating account of the
way in which man by his free choices makes his eternal destiny.[15]
"God compels nobody, for He will have no one saved by compulsion."[16]
"God has given freewill to men that they may choose for themselves,
either the good or the bad.  Christ said to His disciples, 'Will ye
{23} go away?' as though He would say, 'You are under no
compulsion.'"[17]  "God," he says again in the _Widerruf_, "forces no
one, for love cannot compel, and God's service is, therefore, a thing
of complete freedom."[18]

It is freedom, too, which explains the fact of sin.  God is in no way
the author of sin; He is wholly good; He can do nothing but what is
good; He ordains no one to sin; He is the instigator of no evil at all.
All the sin and moral evil of the world have come from our own evil
choices and purposes.  "The thing which hinders and has always hindered
is that our wills are different from God's will.  God never seeks
Himself in His willing--we do.  There is no other way to blessedness
than to lose one's self-will."[19]  "He who surrenders his
selfishness," he says in another treatise, "and uses the freedom which
God has given him, and fights the spiritual battle as God wills that
such battles are to be fought and as Christ fought His, can in his
measure be like Christ."[20]  The whole problem of salvation for him
is, as we shall see, to bring about such a transformation in man that
sin ceases, and the least thing thought, said, or done out of harmony
with the will of God becomes bitter and painful to the soul.[21]  "To
be a Christian," he once wrote, "is to be in measure like Christ, and
to be ready to be offered as He gave Himself to be offered.  I do not
say that we _are_ perfect as Christ was, but I say rather that we are
to seek the perfection which Christ never lost.  Christ calls Himself
the Light of the world, but He also tells His disciples that _they_ too
are the light of the world.  All Christians in whom the Holy Ghost
lives--that is all real Christians--are one with Christ in God and are
like Christ.  They will therefore have similar experiences, and what
Christ did they will also do."[22]

Not only is there a power of free choice in the soul; there is as well
an elemental hunger in man which pushes him Godward.  "God," he often
says, "can give only {24} to those who hunger."  In a very great
passage which reminds one of Pascal he says: "The kingdom of God is in
you and he who searches for it outside himself will never find it, for
_apart from God no one can either seek or find God, for he who seeks
God, already in truth has Him_."[23]  He says nearly the same thing
again in the little book, _Vom Gesetz Gottes_: "He who does not know
God from God Himself does not ever know Him."  This central insight of
Denck's religious faith that God and man are not completely sundered,
but meet, as he says,[24] in the deeps of ourselves, is grounded upon
the fact of experience that there is within us a supra-individual
Reality which becomes revealed to us sometimes as a Light, sometimes as
a Word, sometimes as a Presence or environing Spirit.  This testimony
is Denck's main contribution, and we must next see how he sets it
forth.  There is, he says, a witness in every man.  He who does not
listen to it blinds himself, although God has given him originally a
good inward eyesight.  If a man will keep still and listen he will hear
what the Spirit witnesses within him.  Not only in _us_ but in the
heathen and in Jews this witness is given, and men might be preached to
outwardly forever without perceiving, if they did not have this witness
in their own hearts.[25]  The Light shines, the invisible Word of God
is uttered in the hearts of all men who come into the world, and this
Light gives all men freedom and power to become children of God.[26]
There is both an inward principle of revelation which he calls _das
innere Wort_, and a principle of active power which he calls _die Kraft
des Allerhöchsten_ (the power of the Highest), not two things, but one
reality under two aspects and two names, and he insists that he who
turns to this Divine, spiritual reality, which is one with God, and
obeys it and loves its leading has already found God and has come to
himself.  "Oh, who will give me a voice," he writes, "that I may cry
aloud to the whole world that God, the all highest, is in the deepest
abyss {25} within us and is waiting for us to return to Him.  Oh, my
God, how does it happen in this poor old world, that Thou art so great
and yet nobody finds Thee, that Thou callest so loudly and nobody hears
Thee, that Thou art so near and nobody feels Thee, that Thou givest
Thyself to everybody and nobody knows Thy name!  Men flee from Thee and
say they cannot find Thee; they turn their backs and say they cannot
see Thee; they stop their ears and say they cannot hear Thee!"[27]

This self-giving nature of God is everywhere taken for granted--it is
just _that_ which he feels that Christ has once for all made sun-clear,
and it is because He is essentially self-giving that God pours out His
life and love upon us as He does His sunshine upon the grass and
flowers.  "The Word of God is with thee before thou seekest; He gives
before thou hast asked; He opens to thee before thou hast knocked." God
like a Father deals with His wayward children.  "Oh, blessed is the
man," he writes, "who in his need finds the love of God and comes to
Him for forgiveness!"[28]  No one of us who has been washed from his
sins, he beautifully says, ought to eat a piece of bread without
considering how God loves him and how he ought to love God, who in
Jesus Christ His Son laid aside His right to Divinity that His love
might appear complete.[29]  "It has pleased the eternal Love," he
writes, "that that Person in whom Love was shown in the highest degree
should be called the Saviour of His people.  Not that it would be
possible for human nature to make anybody saved, but God was so
completely identified in Love with Him that all the Will of God was the
will of this Person, and the sufferings of this Person were and counted
as the sufferings of God Himself."[30]

Christ is for him the complete manifestation of life and the perfect
exhibition or unveiling of God's love, and he who appreciates this
love, feels its attraction, and lives a life which corresponds to his
soul's insight, becomes {26} himself Christlike, forsakes sin and self,
and enters upon a life of salvation.  "All who are saved," he says,
"are of one spirit with God, and he who is the foremost in love is the
foremost of those who are saved."[31]  "He who gets weary of God has
never found Him," while the person who has found Him in this love-way
will be ready and willing to give up even his own salvation and accept
damnation for the love of God, since he knows in his heart that "God is
so wholly good that He can give to such a man only what is highest and
best, and that is Himself!"[32]  That is to say, he who is willing to
be damned for the love of God never will be damned!

But salvation must never be conceived as something which is the result
of a transaction.  It is from beginning to end a life-process and can
in no way be separated from character and personal attitude of will.
"He who depends on the merit of Christ," he says, "and yet continues in
a fleshly, wicked life, regards Christ precisely as in former times the
heathen held their gods.  He who really believes that Christ has saved
him can no longer be a servant of sin, for no one believes rightly
until he leaves his old life."[33]  "It is not enough," he elsewhere
writes, "that God is in thee; thou must also be in God, that is,
partake of the life of God.  It does not help to have God if thou dost
not honour Him.  It is no avail to call thyself His child _if thou dost
not behave thyself like a child_!"[34]  He insists that no one can be
"called righteous" or be "counted righteous" until he actually _is_
righteous.  Nothing can be "imputed" to a man which is not ethically
and morally present as a living feature of his character and conduct.
No one, he truly says, can know _Christ as a means of salvation_ unless
he follows Him in his life.  He who does not witness to Christ in his
daily walk grows into a different person from the one he is called to
be.[35]  The person who lives on in sin does not really know God, and,
{27} to use his fine figure; is like a man who has lost his home and
gone astray, and does not even know that he is _at home_, when his
Father has found him and has welcomed him back, but still goes on
hunting for home and for Father, since he does not recognize his home
or his Father when he has found them![36]

Salvation, then, for Hans Denck is wholly an inward process, initiated
from above through the Divine Word, the Christ, whom we know outwardly
as the historical Person of the Gospel, and whom we know inwardly as
the Revealer of Light and Love, the Witness in us against sin, the
Voice of the Father to our hearts, calling us home, the Goal of our
spiritual quest, the Alpha and the Omega of all religious truth and all
spiritual experience.  The Way to God, he says, is Christ inwardly and
spiritually known.[37]  But however audible the inner Word may be;
however vivid the illumination; however drawing the Love, there is
never compulsion.  The soul itself must hear and see and feel; must say
yes to the appeal of Love, and must co-operate by a continuous
adjustment of the personal will to the Will of God and "learn to behave
as a child of God."

Having reached the insight that salvation is entirely an affair of the
spirit, an inward matter, Denck loosened his hold upon the external
things which had through long centuries of history come to be
considered essential to Christianity.  Sacraments and ceremonies
dropped to a lower level for him as things of no importance.  With his
characteristic breadth and sweetness, he does not smite them as an
iconoclast would have done; he does not cry out against those who
continue to use them.  He merely considered them of no spiritual
significance.  "Ceremonies," he writes in his dying confession, "in
themselves are not sin, but whoever supposes that he can attain to life
either by baptism or by partaking of bread, is still in
superstition."[38]  "If all ceremonies," he adds, "were lost, little
harm would come of it."[39] {28} He appeals to Christians to stop
quarrelling over these outward and secondary matters, and to make
religion consist in love to neighbour rather than in zeal for outward
ceremonies.  He laid down this great principle: "All externals must
yield to love, for they are for the sake of love, and not love for
their sake."[40]

He was, consistently with his fundamental ideas, profoundly opposed to
every tendency to make Christianity a legal religion.  His friends, the
Anabaptists, were inclined to turn the Gospel of Christ into "a new
law," and to make religion consist largely in scrupulous obedience to
this perfect law of life.  To all this he was radically alien, for it
was, he thought, only another road back to a religion of the letter,
while Christ came to call us to a religion of the spirit.  "He who has
not the Spirit," he wrote, "and who fails to find Him in the
Scriptures, seeks life and finds death; seeks light and finds darkness,
whether it be in the Old or in the New Testament."[41]  "He who thinks
that he can be _made truly righteous_ by means of a Book is ascribing
to the dead letter what belongs to the Spirit."[42]  He does not
belittle or undervalue the Scriptures--he knew them almost by heart and
took the precious time out of his brief life to help to translate the
Prophets into German--but he wants to make the fact forever plain that
men are saved or lost as they say _yes_ or _no_ to a Light and Word
within themselves.  "The Holy Scriptures," he writes in his dying
testimony, "I consider above every human treasure, but not so high as
the Word of God which is living, powerful, and eternal, for it is God
Himself, Spirit and no letter, written without pen or paper so that it
can never be destroyed.  For that reason, salvation is not bound up
with the Scriptures, however necessary and good they may be for their
purpose, because it is impossible for the Scriptures to make good a bad
heart, even though it may be a learned one.  A good heart, however,
with a Divine Spark in it is improved by everything, and to such the
Scriptures will bring blessedness {29} and goodness."[43]  The
Scriptures--the external Word--as he many times, in fact somewhat
tediously, declares, are witnesses and pointers to the real and
momentous thing, the Word which is very near to all souls and is
written in the heart, and which increases in clearness and power as the
will swings into parallelism with the will of God, and as the life
grows in likeness to the Divine image revealed in Christ.  This inward
life and spiritual appreciation do not give any ground for relaxing the
moral obligations of life.  No fulfilling of the law by Christ, no
vanishing of the outward and temporal, furnish any excuse to us for
slacking a jot or tittle of anything which belongs to the inherent
nature of moral goodness.  "Christ," he says, "fulfilled the law, not
to relieve us of it, but to show us how to keep it in truth.  The
member must partake of what the Head partakes."[44]  _To love God alone
and to hate everything that hinders love_ is a principle which, Denck
believes, will fulfil all law, ancient or modern.[45]

Such were the ideas which this young radical reformer, dreamer perhaps,
tried to teach his age.  The time was not ripe for him, and there was
no environment ready for his message.  He spoke to minds busy with
theological systems, and to men whose battles were over the meaning of
inherited medieval dogma.  He thought and spoke as a child of another
world, and he talked in a language which he had learned from his heart
and not from books or from the schools.  It is "the key of David," he
says, that is, an inward experience, which unlocks all the solid doors
of truth, but there were so few about him who really had this "key"!
His task, which was destined to be hard and painful, which was in his
lifetime doomed to failure, was not self-chosen.  "I opened my mouth,"
he says, "against my will and I am speaking to the world because God
impels me so that I cannot keep silent.  God has called me out and
stationed me at my post, and He knows whether good will come of it or


It is not often that a man living in the atmosphere of seething
enthusiasm, pitilessly pricked and goaded by brutal and unfeeling
persecutors, compelled to hear his precious truth persistently called
error and pestilent heresy, keeps so calm and sane and sure that all
will be well with him and with his truth as does Denck.  "I am heartily
well content," is his dying testimony, "that all shame and disgrace
should fall on my face, if it is for the truth.  It was when I began to
love God that I got the disfavour of men."[47]  He confesses that he
has found it difficult to "keep a gentle and a humble heart" through
all his work among men, to "temper his zeal with understanding," and to
"make his lips say always what his heart meant,"[48] but he did, at
least, succeed in loving God and in hating everything that hindered
love.  In an epoch in which the doctrine was new and revolutionary, he
succeeded in presenting the principle of the Inward Word as the basis
of religion without giving any encouragement to libertinism or moral
laxity, for he found the way of freedom to be a life of growing
likeness to Christ, he held the fulfilling of the law to be possible
only for those who accept the burdens and sacrifices of love, and he
insisted that the privileges of blessedness belong only to those who
_behave like sons_.

[1] The best studies on Denck are Heberle's articles in _Theol. Studien
und Kritiken_ (1851), Erstes Heft, and (1855) Viertes Heft.  Gustave
Roehrich's _Essai sur la vie, les écrits et la doctrine de Jean Denk_
(Strasbourg, 1853).  Ludwig Keller's _Ein Apostel der Wiedertäufer_
(Leipzig, 1882).  The last two books must, however, be followed with
much caution.

[2] One branch of the Anabaptists held that the "saints" may, however,
rightly use the sword to execute the purposes of God upon the godless,
and to hasten the coming of the Thousand Years' Reign of the Kingdom.

[3] I have included him, in my _Studies in Mystical Religion_ (1908),
among the Anabaptists, but he can be called one only by such a loose
use of the word that it ceases to have any _definite_ significance.

[4] See J. Kessler's _Sabbata_ (1902), p. 150.

[5] L. Keller, _Johann von Staupitz_, p. 207.

[6] _Ibid._ p. 208.

[7] OEcolampadius' Letter to Pirkheimer, April 25, 1525.

[8] Georg Theodor Strobel, _Leben, Schriften und Lehren Münzers_
(Nürnberg, 1795); J. R. Seidemann, _Thomas Münzer_ (Dresden, 1842).

[9] A contemporary chronicle calls Denck a scholar, eloquent, modest
and, withal, learned in Hebrew.--Kessler's _Sabbata_, p. 150.

[10] This "Confession" is in the archives of Nuremberg, and has been
extensively used in Keller's _Ein Apostel der Wiedertäufer_, see
especially pp. 49-62.  See also Th. Kolde, _Kirchengeschichtliche
Studien_ (1888), p. 231 f.  In this connection much interest attaches
to a passage in a letter which Luther wrote to Johann Brismann,
February 4, 1525.  He says: "Satan has carried it so far that in
Nuremberg some persons are denying that Christ is anything, that the
Word of God is anything, that the Eucharist is anything, that
Magistracy is anything.  They say that only God is."

[11] See Nicoladoni's _Johannes Bünderlin von Linz_ (Berlin, 1893), p.

[12] Letter of Capita to Zwingli, December 26, 1526.

[13] Kessler says that OEcolampadius in a Christian spirit was with him
at his death.  _Op. cit._ p. 151.

[14] The little books of Denck from which I shall extract his teaching
are: (1) _Vom Gesetz Gottes_ ("On the Law of God"), printed without
place or date, but probably published in 1526.  I have used the copy in
the Königliche Bibliothek in Berlin, sig. Co. 2152.  (2) _Was geredet
sey doss die Schrift sagt Gott thue und mache guts und böses_ ("What
does it mean when the Scripture says God does and works Good and
Evil"), 1526.  Copies of this are to be found in the University Library
of Marburg, also in the Königliche Bibliothek of Dresden.  (3)
_Widerruf_ ("Confession "), 1527.  I have used the copy in the
Königliche Bibliothek in Dresden sig. Theol. Cathol. 817  (4) _Ordnung
Gottes und der Creaturen Werck_ ("The Divine Plan and the Work of the
Creature"), 1527, in the above library in Dresden.  (5) _Wer die
Warheif warlich lieb hat_, etc., no date ("Whoever really loves the
Truth," etc.), and (6) _Von der wahren Liebe_ ("On the True Love"),
1527.  This last tract has been republished in America by the
Mennonitische Verlagshandlung, Elkhart, Indiana, 1888.

[15] "To hear the Word of God," he elsewhere says, "means life; to hear
it not means death."--_Ordnung Gottes_, p. 17.

[16] _Was geredet sey_, p. C.  (The paging is by letters.)

[17] _Was geredet sey_, B. 3.

[18] _Widerruf_, sec. iv.

[19] _Was geredet sey_, B.

[20] _Ibid._ B. 5.

[21] _Venn Gesetz Gottes_, p. 15.

[22] _Was geredet sey_, B. 6.

[23] _Was geredet sey_, B. 2.

[24] _Ibid._ B. 5.

[25] _Ibid._ B. 1 and 2.

[26] _Ordnung Gottes_, p. 7.

[27] _Vom Gesetz Gottes_, p. 27.

[28] _Was geredet sey_, D. 1 and 2.

[29] _Vom Gesetz Gottes_, p. 33.

[30] _Van der wahren Liebe_ (Elkhart reprint), p. 7.

[31] _Van der wahren Liebe_ (Elkhart reprint), p. 8.

[32] _Vom Gesetz Gottes_, p. 19.

[33] _Widerruf_, ii.

[34] _Was geredet sey_, B. 1.

[35] _Ibid._ D.

[36] _Was geredet sey_, A. 4 and 5.

[37] _Ibid_. B. 3.

[38] _Widerruf_, vii.

[39] _Ibid._ vii.

[40] _Vom Gesetz Gottes_, p. 33.

[41] _Ibid._ p. 22.

[42] _Ibid._ p. 21.

[43] _Widerruf_, i.

[44] _Vom Gesetz Gottes_, p. 9.

[45] _Ibid._ p. 12.

[46] _Was geredet sey_, Preface.

[47] _Widerruf_, Preface.

[48] _Ibid._, Preface.





The study of Denck in the previous chapter has furnished the main
outlines of the type of Christianity which a little group of men,
sometimes called "Enthusiasts," and sometimes called "Spirituals," but
in reality sixteenth-century Quakers, proclaimed and faithfully
practised in the opening period of the Reformation.  They differed
fundamentally from Luther in their conception of salvation and in their
basis of authority, although they owed their first awakening to him;
and they were not truly Anabaptists, though they allied themselves at
first with this movement, and earnestly laboured to check the ominous
signs of Ranterism and Fanaticism, and the misguided "return" to
millennial hopes and expectations, to which many of the Anabaptist
leaders were prone.

The inner circle of "Spirituals" which we are now engaged in
investigating was never numerically large or impressive, nor was it in
the public mind well differentiated within the larger circle of
seething ideas and revolutionary propaganda.  The men themselves,
however, who composed it had a very sure grasp of a few definite,
central truths to which they were dedicated, and they never lost sight,
in the hurly-burly of contention and in the storm of persecution, of
the goal toward which they were bending their steps.  They did not
endeavour {32} to found a Church, to organize a sect, or to gain a
personal following, because it was a deeply settled idea with them all
that the true Church is invisible.  It is a communion of saints,
including those of all centuries, past and present, who have heard and
obeyed the divine inner Word, and through co-operation with God's
inward revelation and transforming Presence have risen to a mystical
union of heart and life with Him.  Their apostolic mission--for they
fully believed that they were "called" and "sent"--was to bear witness
to this eternal Word within the soul, to extend the fellowship of this
invisible Zion, and to gather out of all lands and peoples and visible
folds of the Church those who were ready for membership in the one
family and brotherhood of the Spirit of God.  They made the mistake,
which has been very often made before and since, of undervaluing
external helps and of failing to appreciate how important is the
visible fellowship, the social group, working at common tasks and
problems, the temporal Church witnessing to its tested faith and
proclaiming its message to the ears of the world; but they did
nevertheless perform a very great service in their generation, and they
are the unrecognized forerunners of much which we highly prize in the
spiritual heritage of the modern world.

The two men whose spiritual views we are about to study are, I am
afraid, hardly even "names" to the world of to-day.  They were not on
the popular and winning side and they have fallen into oblivion, and
the busy world has gone on and left them and their little books to lie
buried in a forgotten past.  They are surely worthy of a resurrection,
and those who take the pains will discover that the ideas which they
promulgated never really died, but were quick and powerful in the
formation of the inner life of the religious societies of the English
Commonwealth, and so of many things which have touched our inner world

Johann Bünderlin, like his inspirer Denck, was a scholar of no mean
rank.  He understood Hebrew; he knew the Church Fathers both in Greek
and Latin; he {33} makes frequent reference to Greek literature for
illustration, and he was well versed in the dialectic of the schools,
though he disapproved of it as a religious method.[1]  He was enrolled
as a student in the University of Vienna in 1515, under the name of
Johann Wunderl aus Linz, Linz being a town of Upper Austria.  After
four years of study he left the University in 1519, being compelled to
forgo his Bachelor's degree because he was too poor to pay the required
fee.[2]  The next five years of his life are submerged beyond recovery,
but we hear of him in 1526 as a preacher in the service of Bartholomäus
von Starhemberg, a prominent nobleman of Upper Austria, and he was at
this time a devout adherent of the Lutheran faith.  He was in Augsburg
this same year, 1526, at the time of the great gathering of
Anabaptists, and here he probably met Hans Denck, at any rate he
testified in 1529 before the investigating Judge in Strasbourg that he
received adult baptism in Augsburg three years before.  He seems to
have gone from Augsburg to Nikolsburg, where he was present at a public
Discussion in which a definite differentiation appeared between the
moderate and the radical, the right and left, wings of the Anabaptists.
Bünderlin took part in this Discussion on the "moderate" side.  He
remained for some time--perhaps two years--in Nikolsburg and faced the
persecution which prevailed in that city during the winter of
1527-1528.  The next year he comes to notice in Strasbourg where, for a
long time, a much larger freedom of thought was allowed than in any
other German city of the period.  The great tragedy which he had to
experience was the frustration of the work of his life by the growth
and spread of the Ranter influence in the Anabaptist circles, through
the leadership of Melchior Hoffman and others of a similar spirit.  He
loved freedom, and here he saw it degenerating into license.  He was
devoted to a religion of experience and of inner authority, and now
{34} he saw the wild extremes to which such a religion was exposed.  He
was dedicated to a spiritual Christianity, and now he was compelled to
learn the bitter lesson that there are many types and varieties of
"spiritual religion," and that the masses are inclined to go with those
who supply them with a variety which is spectacular and which produces
emotional thrills.  Our last definite information concerning Bünderlin
shows him to have been in Constance in 1530, from which city he was
expelled as a result of information against the "soundness" of his
doctrine, furnished in a letter from OEcolampadius.  From this time he
drops completely out of notice, and we are left only with conjectures.
One possible reference to him occurs in a letter from Julius Pflug, the
Humanist, to Erasmus in 1533.  Pflug says that a person has newly
arrived in Litium (probably Lützen) who teaches that there are no words
of Christ as a warrant for the celebration of the Sacrament of the
Supper, and that it is to be partaken of only in a spiritual way.  He
adds that God had intervened to protect the people from such heresy and
that the heretic had been imprisoned.  The usual penalty for such
heresy was probably imposed.  This description would well fit Johann
Bünderlin, but we can only guess that he was the opponent of the
visible Sacrament mentioned in the letter which Erasmus received in

Bünderlin's religious contribution is preserved in three little books
which are now extremely rare, the central ideas of which I shall give
in condensed form and largely in my own words, though I have faithfully
endeavoured to render him fairly.[4]  His style is difficult, {35}
mainly because he abounds in repetition and has not learned to write in
an orderly way.  I am inclined to believe that he sometimes wrote, as
he would no doubt preach, in a prophetic, rapturous, spontaneous
fashion, hardly steering his train of thought by his intellect, but
letting it go along lines of least resistance and in a rhythmic flood
of words; his central ideas of course all the time holding the
predominant place in his utterance.  He is essentially a mystic both in
experience and in the ground and basis of his conception of God and
man.  This mystical feature is especially prominent in his second book
on why God became incarnate in Christ, and I shall begin my exposition
with that aspect of his thought.

God, he says, who is the eternal and only goodness, has always been
going out of Himself into forms of self-expression.  His highest
expression is made in a heavenly and purely spiritual order of angelic
beings.  Through these spiritual beings He objectifies Himself, mirrors
Himself, knows Himself, and becomes revealed.[5]  He has also poured
Himself out in a lower order of manifestation in the visible creation
where spirit often finds itself in opposition and contrast to that
which is not spirit.  The highest being in this second order is man,
who in inward essence is made in the image and likeness of God, but
binds together in one personal life both sensuous elements and divine
and spiritual elements which are always in collision and warfare with
each other.  Man has full freedom of choice and can swing his will over
to either side--he can live upward toward the divine goodness, or he
can live downward toward the poor, thin, limiting isolation of
individual selfhood.  But {36} through the shifting drama of our human
destiny God never leaves us.  He is always within us, as near to the
heart of our being as the Light is to the eye.  Conscience is the
witness of His continued Presence; the drawing which we feel toward
higher things is born in the unlost image of God which is planted in
our nature "like the tree of Life in Eden."  He pleads in our hearts by
His inner Word; He reveals the goodness of Himself in His vocal
opposition to all that would harm and spoil us, and He labours
unceasingly to be born in us and to bring forth His love and His
spiritual kingdom in the domain of our own spirits.  The way of life is
to die to the flesh and to the narrow will of the self, and to become
alive to the Spirit and Word of God in the soul, to enter into and
participate in that eternal love with which God loves us.  This central
idea of the double nature of man--an upper self indissolubly linked
with God and a lower self rooted in fleshly and selfish desires--runs
through all his writings, and in his view all the processes of
revelation are to further the liberation and development of the higher
and to weaken the gravitation of the lower self.

His first book deals with God's twofold revelation of
Himself--primarily as a living Word in the soul of man, and secondarily
through external signs and events, in an historical word, and in a
temporal incarnation.  With a wealth and variety of expression and
illustration he insists and reiterates that only through the
citadel--or better the sanctuary--of his inner self can man be
spiritually reached, and won, and saved.  Nobody can be saved until he
knows himself at one with God; until he finds his will at peace and in
harmony with God's will; until his inward spirit is conscious of unity
with the eternal Spirit; in short, until love sets him free with the
freedom and joy of sons of God.  Priests may absolve men if they will,
and ministers may pronounce them saved, but all _that_ counts for
nothing until the inward transformation is a fact and the will has
found its goal in the will of God: "Love must bloom and the spirit {37}
of the man must follow the will of God written in his heart."[6]

All external means in religion have one purpose and one function; they
are to awaken the mind and to direct it to the inward Word.  The most
startling miracle, the most momentous event in the sphere of temporal
sequences, the most appealing account of historical occurrences can do
nothing more than give in parable-fashion hints and suggestions of the
real nature of that God who is eternally present within human spirits,
and who is working endlessly to conform all lives to His perfect type
and pattern.  In the infant period of the race, both among the Hebrews
and the Gentile peoples, God has used, like a wise Teacher, the symbol
and picture-book method.  He has disciplined them with external laws
and with ceremonies which would move their child-minded imaginations;
but all this method was used only because they were not ripe and ready
for the true and higher form of goodness.  "They used the face of Moses
until they could come to the full Light of the truth and righteousness
of God, for which all the time their spirits really hungered and
thirsted."[7]  The supreme instance of the divine pictorial method was
the sending of Christ to reveal God visibly.  Before seeing God in
Christ men falsely thought of Him as hostile, stern, and wrathful; now
they may see Him in this unveiling of Himself as He actually is,
eternally loving, patiently forgiving, and seeking only to draw the
world into His love and peace: "When the Abba-crying spirit of Christ
awakens in our hearts we commune with God in peace and love."[8]  But
no one must content himself with Christ after the flesh, Christ
historically known.  That is to make an idol of Him.  We can be saved
through Him only when by His help we discover the essential nature of
God and when He moves us to go to living in the spirit and power as
Christ Himself lived.  His death as an outward, historical fact does
not save us; it is the supreme expression of His limitless love and the
complete dedication {38} of His spirit in self-giving, and it is
effective for our salvation only when it draws us into a similar way of
living, unites us in spirit with Him and makes us in reality partakers
of His blood spiritually apprehended.  Christ is our Mediator in that
He reveals the love of God towards us and moves our will to appreciate

Every step of human progress and of spiritual advance is marked by a
passage from the dominion of the external to the sway and power of
inward experience.  God is training us for a time when images, figures,
and picture-book methods will be no longer needed, but all men will
live by the inward Word and have the witness--"the Abba-crying
voice"--in their own hearts.  But this process from outward to inward,
from virtue impelled by fear and mediated by law to goodness generated
by love, gives no place for license.  Bünderlin has no fellowship with
antinomianism, and is opposed to any tendency which gives rein to the
flesh.  The outward law, the external restraint, the discipline of fear
and punishment are to be used so long as they are needed, and the
written word and the pictorial image will always serve as a norm and
standard, but the true spiritual goal of life is the formation of a
rightly fashioned will, the creation of a controlling personal love,
the experience of a guiding inward Spirit, which keep the awakened soul
steadily approximating the perfect Life which Christ has revealed.

The true Church is for Bünderlin as for Denck, the communion and
fellowship of spiritual persons--an invisible congregation;
ever-enlarging with the process of the ages and with the expanding
light of the Spirit.  He blames Luther for having stopped short of a
real reformation, of having "mixed with the Midianites instead of going
on into the promised Canaan," and of having failed to dig down to the
fundamental basis of spiritual religion.[10]

In his final treatise[11] he goes to the full length of the implication
of his principle.  He recounts with luminous {39} simplicity the
mystical _unity_ of the spiritual Universe and tells of the divine
purpose to draw all our finite and divided wills into moral harmony
with the Central Will.  Once more religion is presented as wholly a
matter of the inward spirit, a thing of insight, of obedience to a
living Word, of love for an infinite Lover, the bubbling of living
streams of water in the heart of man.  He declares that the period of
signs and symbols and of "the scholastic way of truth" is passing away,
and the religion of the New Testament, the religion of life and spirit,
is coming in place of the old.  As fast as the new comes ceremonies and
sacraments vanish and fall away.  They do not belong to a religion of
the Spirit; they are for the infant race and for those who have not
outgrown the picture-book.  Christ's baptism is with power from above,
and He cleanses from sin not with water but with the Holy Ghost and the
burning fire of love.  As soon as the spiritual man possesses "the key
of David," and has entered upon "the true Sabbath of his soul," he
holds lightly all forms and ceremonies which are outward and which can
be gone through with in a mechanical fashion without creating the
essential attitude of worship and of inner harmony of will with God:
"When the Kingdom of God with its joy and love has come in us we do not
much care for those things which can only happen outside us."[12]


Christian Entfelder held almost precisely the same views as those which
we have found in the teaching of Bünderlin.  He has become even more
submerged than has Bünderlin, and one hunts almost in vain for the
events of his life.  Hagen does not mention him.  Grützmacher in his
_Wort und Geist_ never refers to him.  The great _Realencyklopädie fur
protestantische Theologie und Kirche_ has no article on him.  Gottfried
Arnold in his {40} _Kirchenund Ketzer-Historien_ merely mentions him in
his list of "Witnesses to the Truth."  The only article I have ever
found on him is one by Professor Veesenmeyer in Gabler's _N. theol.
Journal_ (1800), iv. 4, pp. 309-334.

He first appears in the group of Balthasar Hübmaier's followers and at
this period he had evidently allied himself with the Anabaptist
movement, which gathered into itself many young men of the time who
were eager for a new and more spiritual type of Christianity.  Hübmaier
mentions Entfelder in 1527 as pastor at Ewanzig, a small town in
Moravia, where, as he himself later says, he diligently taught his
little flock the things which concerned their inner life.  In the
eventful years of 1520-1530 he was in Strasbourg in company with
Bünderlin,[13] and in this latter year he published his first book,
with the title: _Von den manigfaltigen in Glauben Zerspaltungen dise
jar erstanden_.  ("On the many Separations which have this year arisen
in Belief.")  A second book, which is also dated 1530, bears the title:
Von waren Gotseligkayt, etc.  ("On true Salvation.")  He wrote also a
third book, which appeared in 1533 under the title: _Von Gottes und
Christi Jesu unseres Herren Erkandtnuss_, etc.  ("On the Knowledge of
God and Jesus Christ our Lord.")

His style is simpler than that of Bünderlin.  He appears more as a man
of the people; he is fond of vigorous, graphic figures of speech taken
from the life of the common people, much in the manner of Luther, and
he breathes forth in all three books a spirit of deep and saintly life.
His fundamental idea of the Universe is like that of Bünderlin.  The
visible and invisible creation, in all its degrees and stages, is the
outgoing and unfolding of God, who in His Essence and Godhead is one,
indivisible and incomprehensible.  But as He is essentially and
eternally Good, He _expresses_ Himself in revelation, and goes out of
Unity into differentiation and multiplicity; but the entire spiritual
movement of the universe is back again toward the fundamental Unity,
for Divine Unity is both the Alpha and the Omega of the {41} deeper
inner world.  His main interest is, however, not philosophical and
speculative; his mind focuses always on the practical matters of a true
and saintly life.  Like his teacher, Bünderlin, his whole view of life
and salvation is mystical; everything which concerns religion occurs in
the realm of the soul and is the outcome of direct relations between
the human spirit and the Divine Spirit.  In every age, and in every
land, the inner Word of God, the Voice of the Spirit speaking within,
clarifying the mind and training the spiritual perceptions by a
progressive experience, has made for itself a chosen people and has
gathered out of the world a little inner circle of those who know the
Truth because it was formed within themselves.  This "inner circle of
those who know" is the true Church: "The Church is a chosen, saved,
purified, sanctified group in whom God dwells, upon whom the Holy Ghost
was poured out His gifts and with whom Christ the Lord shares His
offices and His mission."[14]

There is however, through the ages a steady ripening of the Divine
Harvest, a gradual and progressive onward movement of the spiritual
process, ever within the lives of men: "Time brings roses.  He who
thinks that he has all the fruit when strawberries are ripe forgets
that grapes are still to come.  We should always be eagerly looking for
something better."[15]  There are, he says, three well-marked stages of
revelation: (1) The stage of the law, when God, the Father, was making
Himself known through His external creation and by outward forms of
training and discipline; (2) the stage of self-revelation through the
Son, that men might see in Him and His personal activity the actual
character and heart of God; and (3) the stage of the Holy Spirit which
fills all deeps and heights, flows into all lives, and is the One God
revealed in His essential nature of active Goodness--Goodness at work
in the world.  Externals of every type--law, ceremonies, rewards and
punishments, {42} historical happenings, written Scriptures, even the
historical doings and sufferings of Christ--are only pointers and
suggestion-material to bring the soul to the living Word within, "to
the Lord Himself who is never absent," and who will be spiritually born
within man.  "God," he says, "has once become flesh in Christ and has
revealed thus the hidden God and, as happened in a fleshly way in Mary,
even so Christ must be spiritually born in us."  So, too, everything
which Christ experienced and endured in His earthly mission must be
re-lived and reproduced in the life of His true disciples.  There is no
salvation possible without the new birth of Christ in us, without
self-surrender and the losing of oneself, without being buried with
Christ in a death to self-will and without rising with Him in joy and
peace and victory.[16]  He who rightly loves his Christ will speak no
word, will eat no bit of bread, nor taste of water, nor put a stitch of
clothes upon his body without thinking of the Beloved of his
soul. . . .  In this state he can rid himself of all pictures and
symbols, renounce everything which he possesses, take up his cross with
Christ, join Him in an inward, dying life, allow himself, like grain,
to be threshed, winnowed, ground, bolted, and baked that he may become
spiritual food as Christ has done for us.  Then there comes a state in
which poverty and riches, pain and joy, life and death are alike, when
the soul has found its sabbath-peace in the Origin and Fount of all
Love.[17]  His first book closes with a beautiful account of the return
of the prodigal to His Father and to His Father's love, and then he
breaks into a joyous cry, as if it all came out of his own experience:
"Who then can separate us from the Love of God?"

Those who rightly understand religion and have had this birth and this
Sabbath-peace within themselves will stop contending over outward,
external things, which make separations but do not minister to the
spirit; they will give up the Babel-habit of constructing theological
{43} systems,[18] they will pass upward from elements to the essence,
they will stop building the city-walls of the Church out of baptism and
the supper, which furnish "only clay-plastered walls" at best, and they
will found the Church instead upon the true sacramental power of the
inward Spirit of God.[19]  The true goal of the spiritual life is such
a oneness with God that He is in us and we in Him, so that the inner
joy and power take our outer life captive and draw us away from the
world and its "pictures," and make it a heartfelt delight to do all His
commandments and to suffer anything for Him.[20]

Here, then, in the third decade of the sixteenth century, when the
leaders of the Reformation were using all their powers of dialectic to
formulate in new scholastic phrase the sound creed for Protestant
Christendom, and while the fierce and decisive battle was being waged
over the new form in which the Eucharist must be celebrated, there
appeared a little group of men who proposed that Christianity should be
conceived and practised as _a way of living_--nothing more nor less.
They rejected theological language and terminology root and branch.
They are as innocent of scholastic subtlety and forensic conceptions as
though they had been born in this generation.  They seem to have wiped
their slate clean of the long line of Augustinian contributions, and to
have begun afresh with the life and message of Jesus Christ, coloured,
if at all, by local and temporal backgrounds, by the experience of the
earlier German mystics who helped them to interpret their own simple
and sincere experiences.  They are as naïve and artless as little
children, and they expect, as all enthusiasts do in their youth, that
they have only to announce their wonderful truths and to proclaim their
"openings" in order to bring the world to the light!  They go to the
full length of the implications of their {44} fresh insight without
ever dreaming that all the theological world will unite, across the
yawning chasms of difference, to stamp out their "pestilent heresy,"
and to rid the earth of persons who dare to question the traditions and
the practices of the centuries.

Instead of beginning with the presupposition of original sin, they
quietly assert that the soul of man is inherently bound up in the Life
and Nature of God, and that goodness is at least as "original" as
badness.  They fly in the face of the age-long view that the doctrine
of Grace makes freewill impossible and reduces salvation wholly to a
work of God, and they assert as the ineradicable testimony of their own
consciousness that human choices between Light and Darkness, the
personal response to the character of God as He reveals Himself, the
co-operation of the will of man with the processes of a living and
spiritual God are the things which save a man--and this salvation is
possible in a pagan, in a Jew, in a Turk even, as well as in a man who
ranges himself under Christian rubrics and who says paternosters.  They
reject all the scholastic accounts of Christ's metaphysical nature,
they will not use the term Trinity, nor will they admit that it is
right to employ any words which imply that God is divided into
multiform personalities; but nevertheless they hold, with all the
fervour of their earnest spirits, that Christ is God historically and
humanly revealed, and that to see Christ is to see the true and only
God, and to love Christ is to love the Eternal Love.

In an age which settled back upon the Scriptures as the only basis of
authority in religious faith and practice, they boldly challenged that
course as a dangerous return to a lower form of religion than that to
which Christ had called men and as only legalism and scribism in a new
dress.  They insisted that the Eternal Spirit, who had been educating
the race from its birth, bringing all things up to better, and who had
used now one symbol and now another to fit the growing spiritual
perception of men, is a real Presence in the deeps of men's {45}
consciousness, and is ceaselessly voicing Himself there as a living
Word whom it is life to obey and death to disregard and slight.  Having
found this present, immanent Spirit and being deeply convinced that all
that really matters happens in the dread region of the human heart,
they turned away from all ceremonies and sacraments and tried to form a
Church which should be purely and simply a Communion of saints--a
brotherhood of believers living in the joy of an inward experience of
God, and bound together in common love to Christ and in common service
to all who are potential sons of God.

[1] See Veesenmeyer's article on Bünderlin in _N. lit. Anzeiger_ for
August 1807, P. 535.

[2] The details of his life here given have been gathered mainly from
the excellent monograph on _Johannes Bünderlin_ by Dr. Alexander
Nicoladoni.  (Berlin, 1893.)

[3] This incident is given in Dr. Carl Hagen's _Deutschlands
literarischt und religiöse Verhältnisse im Reformalionszeitalter_,
1868, iii. p. 310.

[4] The books are:--

(1) _Ein gemayne Berechnung über der Heiligen Schrift Inhalt_, etc.
("A General Consideration of the Contents of Holy Scripture.")  Printed
in Strasbourg in 1529.

(2) _Aus was Ursach sich Gott in die nyder gelassen und in Christo
vermenschet ist_, etc., 1529.  ("For what cause God has descended here
below and has become incarnate in Christ.")

(3) _Erklärung durch Vergleichung der biblischen Geschrift, doss der
Wassertauf sammt andern äusserlichen Gebräuchen in der apostolischen
Kirchen geubet, on Gottes Befelch und Zeugniss der Geschrift, von
etlichen dieser Zeit wider efert wird_, etc., 1530.  ("Declaration by
comparison of the Biblical Writings that Baptism with Water, together
with other External Customs practised in the Apostolic Church, have
been reinstated by some at this time without the Command of God or the
Witness of the Scriptures.")

These three books can be found bound in one volume, with writings of
Denck and others, in the Königliche Bibliothek in Dresden.  There is
also a copy of his third book in Utrecht.  Besides using the books
themselves I have also used the monograph by Nicoladoni and the study
of Bünderlin in Hagen, _op. cit._ iii. pp. 295-310.

[5] This idea is reproduced and greatly expanded in the writings of the
famous Silesian Mystic, Jacob Boehme.

[6] _Ein gemayne Berechnung_, p. 57.

[7] _Ibid._ p. 14.

[8] _Ibid._ p. 221.

[9] _Ein gemayne Berechnung_, pp. 218-221, freely rendered.

[10] _Ibid_. pp. 30-34.

[11] _Erklärung durch Vergleichung._

[12] _Aus was Ursach_, p. 33.  These phrases, "Key of David" and
"Sabbath Rest for the Soul," occur in the writings of all the spiritual

[13] See _N. lit. Anzeiger_ (1807), p. 515.

[14] Entfelder to his brethren at the end of his first book: _Von

[15] Vorrede to _Von Zerspaltungen_.

[16] _Von waren Gotseligkayt_, pp. 18-21.

[17] See especially _Von Zerspaltungen_, pp. 6-8.

[18] This "Babel-habit of constructing theological systems" is
constantly referred to by Jacob Boehme, as we shall see.  I believe
that Boehme had read both Bünderlin and Entfelder.

[19] See _Von Zerspaltungen_, passim, especially p. 17.

[20] _Von waren Gotseligkayt_, p. 13.




Sebastian Franck is one of the most interesting figures in the group of
German Reformers, a man of heroic spirit and a path-breaking genius,
though for many reasons his influence upon his epoch was in no degree
comparable with that of many of his great contemporaries.  No person,
however great a genius he may be, can get wholly free from the
intellectual climate and the social ideals of his period, but
occasionally a man appears who has the skill and vision to hit upon
nascent aspirations and tendencies which are big with futurity, and who
thereby seems to be far ahead of his age and not explicable by any
lineage or pedigree.  Sebastian Franck was a man of this sort.  He was
extraordinarily unfettered by medieval inheritance, and he would be able
to adjust himself with perfect ease to the spirit and ideas of the modern
world if he could be dropped forward into it.

He is especially interesting and important as an exponent and interpreter
of a religion based on inward authority because he unites, in an unusual
manner, the intellectual ideals of the Humanist with the experience and
attitude of the Mystic.  In him we have a Christian thinker who is able
to detach himself from the theological formulations of his own and of
earlier times, and who could draw, with breadth of mind and depth of
insight, from the wells of the great original thinkers of all ages, and
who, besides, in his own deep and serious soul could feel the inner flow
of central realities.  He was no doubt {47} too much detached to be a
successful Reformer of the historical Church, and he was too little
interested in external organisations to be the leader of a new sect; but
he was, what he aspired to be, a sincere and unselfish contributor to the
spread of the Kingdom of God, and a significant apostle of the invisible

Sebastian Franck was born in 1499 at Donauwürth in Schwabia.  He began
his higher education in the University of Ingolstadt, which he entered
March 26, 1515.  He went from Ingolstadt to Heidelberg, where he
continued his studies in the Dominican College which was incorporated
with the University.  Here he was associated in the friendly fellowship
of student life with two of his later opponents, Martin Frecht and Martin
Bucer, and here he came under the influence of Humanism which in the
scholarly circles in Heidelberg was beginning to take a place along with
the current Scholasticism of the period.  While a student in Heidelberg
he first heard Martin Luther speak on the insufficiency of works and on
faith as the way of salvation, and though he must have felt the power of
this great personality and the freshness of the message, he was not yet
ripe for a radical change of front.[2]  He seems to have felt through
these student years that a new age was in process of birth, but though he
was following the great events he remained to the end of his University
period an adherent of the ancient Church and was ordained a priest about
the year 1524; but very soon after he went over to the party of Reform,
and was settled as a reforming preacher in the little church at
Gustenfelden near Nuremberg.  During this period he came into close and
intimate relation with the powerful humanistic spirit of that important
city.  Hans Sachs was already a person of fame and influence in
Nuremberg, and here he became acquainted with the writings of the most
famous humanists of the day--Erasmus, Hutten, Reuchlin, Pirkheimer, {48}
Althamer and others.  In 1528 he married Ottilie Behaim, a woman of rare
gifts, whose brothers were pupils of Albrecht Dürer, and who were
themselves in sympathy with the freer tendencies of the time as expressed
by the Anabaptists.  Franck, however, though sympathizing with the
aspirations of the Anabaptists for a new age, did not feel confidence in
their views or their methods.  His first literary work was a translation
into German of Althamer's _Diallage_, which contained an attack from the
Lutheran point of view upon the various Enthusiasts of the period,
especially the Anabaptists.  In his original preface to this work Franck,
though still in most respects a Lutheran, already reveals unmistakable
signs of variation from the Wittenberg type, and he is plainly moving in
the direction of a religion of the spiritual and mystical type freed from
the limitations of sect and party.  Even in this formative stage he
insists that the Spirit, and not commentaries, is the true guide for the
interpretation of Scripture; he already contrasts Spirit and letter,
outer man and inner man, and he here lays down the radical principle,
which he himself soon put into practice, that a minister of the Gospel
should resign his charge as soon as he discovers that his preaching is
not bearing spiritual fruit in the transformation of the lives of his

Sometime before 1530 Franck had come into intimate connection with Denck,
Bünderlin, Schwenckfeld, and other contemporary leaders of the
"Spiritual" movement, and their influence upon him was profound and
lasting, because their message fitted the aspirations which, though not
yet well defined, were surging subconsciously in him.[4]  There are
throughout his writings very clear marks of Schwenckfeld's influence upon
him, but Bünderlin especially spoke to his condition and helped him
discover the road which his feet were seeking.  In an important letter
which Franck wrote to Johann Campanus in 1531, he calls Bünderlin a
scholar, a {49} wonderfully reverent man, dead to the world, powerful in
the Scriptures, and mightily gifted with an enlightened reason; and this
letter shows that he himself has been moving rapidly in the direction in
which Bünderlin and Denck were travelling, though neither now nor at any
time was Franck a mere copier of other men's ideas.[5]  "We must
unlearn," he writes, "all that we have learned from our youth up from the
papists, and we must change everything we have got from the Pope or from
Luther and Zwingli."  He predicts that the external Church will never be
set up again, "for the inward enlightenment by the Spirit of God is

In his _Türkenchronik_, or "Chronicle and Description of Turkey,"
published in 1530, he had already declared his dissatisfaction with
ceremonies and outward forms of any sort, his refusal to be identified
with any existing, empirical Church, his solemn dedication to the
invisible Church, and his determination to be an apostle of the Spirit.
"There already are in our times," he writes, "three distinct Faiths,
which have a large following, the Lutheran, Zwinglian and Anabaptist; and
a _fourth_ is well on the way to birth, which will dispense with external
preaching, ceremonies, sacraments, bann and office as unnecessary, and
which seeks solely to gather among all peoples an invisible, spiritual
Church in the unity of the Spirit and of faith, to be governed wholly by
the eternal, invisible Word of God, without external means, as the
apostolic Church was governed before its apostasy, which occurred after
the death of the apostles."[6]

The year that dates his autobiographical letter to Campanus saw the
publication in Strasbourg of Franck's best-known literary work:
_Chronica, Zeitbuch und Geschichtsbibel_ ("A Universal Chronicle of the
World's History from the Earliest Times to the Present").[7]  It has {50}
often been pointed out that much of the material of this great Chronicle
is taken over from earlier Chroniclers, especially from the Nuremberger
Schedel, and it is furthermore true that Franck's _Book of the Ages_
contains large tracts of unhistorical narrative, set forth after the
manner of Chroniclers without much critical insight, but the book,
nevertheless, has a unique value.  It abounds in Franck's peculiar irony
and paradox, and it unfolds his conception of the spiritual history of
the race, under the tuition of the Divine Word.  At the beginning are
patriarchs living in the dawn of the world under the guidance of inward
vision, and at the end are saints and heretics, whom Franck finds among
all races, bravely following the same inward Light, now after the ages
grown clearer and more luminous, and sufficient for those who will
patiently and faithfully heed it, while the real "heretics" for him are
"heretics of the letter."  "We ought to act carefully before God"--this
is Franck's constant testimony--"hold to God alone and look upon Him as
the cause of all things, and we ought always in all matters to notice
what God says in us, to pay attention to the witness of our hearts, and
never to think, or act, against our conscience.  For everything does not
hang upon the bare letter of Scripture; everything hangs, rather, on the
spirit of Scripture and on a spiritual understanding of the inner meaning
of what God has said.  If we weigh every matter carefully we shall find
its true meaning in the depth of our spiritual understanding and by the
mind of Christ.  Otherwise, the dead letter of Scripture would make us
all heretics and fools, for everything can be bedecked and defended with
texts, therefore let nobody confound himself and confuse himself with
Scripture, but let every one weigh and test Scripture to see how it fits
his own heart.  If it is against his conscience and the Word within his
own soul, then be sure he has not reached the right meaning, according to
the mind of the Spirit, for the Scriptures must give witness to the
Spirit, never against it."[8]


The _Chronica_ naturally aroused a storm of opposition against this bold
advocate of the inner Way.  Even Erasmus, who had been canonized in
Franck's list of heretics, joined in the outcry against the chronicler of
the world's spiritual development.  His book was confiscated, he was
temporarily imprisoned, and for the years immediately following he was
never secure in any city where he endeavoured to pursue his labours.  He
supported himself and his family, now by the humble occupation of a
soap-boiler, now by working in a printing-house, sometimes in Strasbourg,
sometimes in Esslingen, and sometimes in Ulm, only asking that he "might
not be forced to bury the talent which God had given him, but might be
allowed to use it for the good of the people of God."

In 1534 his _Weltbuch_ appeared from a press in Tübingen, and the same
year he published his famous _Paradoxa_, which contains the most clear
and consistent exposition of his mystical and spiritual religion.  Other
significant books from his pen are his translation of Erasmus' _Moriae
Encomion_ ("Praise of Folly"), with very important additions; _Von der
Eitelkeit aller menschlichen Kunst und Weisheit_ ("The Vanity of Arts and
Sciences"), following the treatise by Agrippa von Nettesheim; _Von dem
Baum des Wissens Gutes und Böses ("Of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good
and Evil");[9] the _Germaniae Chronicon_ ("Chronicle of Germany"), 1538;
_Die guldin Arch_ ("Golden Arch"), 1538; and _Das verbütschiert mit 7
Siegeln verschlossene Buch ("The Seven-sealed Book"), 1539.

The closing years of his life were passed in Basle, where he peacefully
worked at his books and at type-setting, while the theologians fired
their paper guns against him, and here in Basle he "went forth with God"
on his last journey to find a safe and quiet "city with foundations,"
probably about the end of the year 1542.  Three years before his {52}
death he had written in his "Seven-sealed Book" of the soul's journey
toward God in these words: "The longer one travels toward the city he
seeks the nearer and nearer he comes to the goal of his journey; exactly
so is it with the soul that is seeking God.  If he will travel away from
himself and away from the world and seek only God as the precious pearl
of his soul, he will come steadily nearer to God, until he becomes one
spirit with God the Spirit; but let him not be afraid of mountains and
valleys on the way, and let him not give up because he is tired and
weary, _for he who seeks finds_."[10]  "The Sealed Book" contains an
"apology" by Franck which is one of the most touching and one of the most
noble documents from any opponent of the course which the German
Reformation was taking.  "I want my writings accepted," he declares,
"only in so far as they fit the spirit of Scripture, the teaching of the
prophets, and only so far as the anointing of the Word of God, Christ the
inward Life and Light of men, gives witness to them. . . .  Nobody is the
master of my faith, and I desire to be the master of the faith of no one.
I love any man whom I can help, and I call him brother whether he be Jew
or Samaritan. . . .  I cannot belong to any separate sect, but I believe
in a holy, Christlike Church, a fellowship of saints, and I hold as my
brother, my neighbour, my flesh and blood, all men who belong to Christ
among all sects, faiths, and peoples scattered throughout the whole
world--only I allow nobody to have dominion over the one place which I am
pledged to the Lord to keep as pure virgin, namely my heart and my
conscience.  If you try to bind my conscience, to rule over my faith, or
to be master of my heart, then I must leave you.  Except _that_,
everything I am or have is thine, whoever thou art or whatever thou
mayest believe."[11]

It was Franck's primary idea--the principle to which he was dedicated and
for which he was content to suffer, {53} in the faith that men in future
times would come to see as he did[12]--that man's soul possesses a native
capacity to hear the inward Word of God.  He often calls Plato and
Plotinus and "Hermes Trismegistus" his teachers, who "had spoken to him
more clearly than Moses did"[13] and, like these Greek teachers of the
nature of the soul's furnishings, he insisted that we come "not in entire
forgetfulness and not in utter nakedness," but that there is a divine
element, an innermost essence in us, in the very structure of the soul,
which is the starting-point of all spiritual progress, the mark of man's
dignity, the real source of all religious experience, and the eternal
basis of the soul's salvation and joy.  He names this inward endowment by
many names.  It is the Word of God ("Wort Gottes"), the Power of God
("Kraft Gottes"), Spirit ("Geist"), Mind of Christ ("Sinn Christi"),
Divine Activity ("göttliche Wirkung"), Divine Origin ("göttlicher
Ursprung"), the inward Light ("das innere Licht"), the true Light ("das
wahre Licht"), the Lamp of the soul ("das innere Ampellicht").  "The
inward Light," Franck says in the _Paradoxa_, "is nothing else than the
Word of God, God Himself, by whom all things were made and by whom all
men are enlightened."  It is, in Franck's thought, not a capricious,
subjective impulse or vision, and it is not to be discovered in sudden
ecstatic experiences; nor, on the other hand, is the divine Word, for
Franck, something purely objective and transcendent.  It is rather a
common ground and essence for God and man.  It is God in His
self-revealing activity; God in His self-giving grace; God as the
immanent ground of all that is permanently real, and at the same time
this divine endowment forms the fundamental nature of man's soul--"Gottes
Wort ist in der menschlichen Natur angelegt"[14]--and is the original
substance of our being.  Consciousness of God and consciousness of self
have one fundamental source in this deep where God and man are
unsundered.  "No man can see or know himself unless he sees and knows, by
the Light and Life that is {54} in him.  God the eternally true Light and
Life; wherefore nobody can ever know God outside of himself, outside that
region where he knows himself in the ground of himself. . . .  Man must
seek, find, and know God through an interrelation--he must find God in
himself and himself in God."[15]  This deep ground of inner reality is in
every person, so far as he is a person; it shines forth as a steady
illumination in the soul, and, while everything else is transitory, this
Word is eternal and has been the moral and spiritual guide of all peoples
in all ages.

Franck thus differs in a vital point from Schwenckfeld.  The latter
starts with man as utterly lost and devoid of any inherent goodness.  By
a sudden, supernatural event, at a temporal moment, divine forces break
into the soul from without and supply it with a revitalizing energy.
Man--lost, fallen, sin-blasted and utterly helpless--is by a divine and
heavenly creative movement _made_ a new Adam.  For Franck, the soul has
never lost the divine Image, the pearl of supreme price, the original
element which is God Himself in the soul.  We are all, in the deepest
centre of our being, like Adam, possessed of a substantial essence, not
of earth, not of time and space, not of the shadow but of the eternal,
spiritual, and heavenly type.  It may become overlaid with the rubbish of
earth, it may long lie buried in the field of the human heart, it may
remain concealed, like the grain of radium in a mass of dark pitchblende,
and be forgotten, but we have only to return home within ourselves to
find the God who has never been sundered from us and who could not leave
us without leaving Himself.  We do not need to cross the sea to find Him,
we do not need to climb the heavens to reach Him--the Word is nigh thee,
the Image is in thy heart, turn home and thou shalt find Him.[16]

The bottomless and abysmal nature of the human soul comes first into
clear revelation in the Person of Christ, who is, Franck declares, truly
and essentially both God and Man.  In Christ the invisible, eternal, {55}
self-existent God has clothed Himself with flesh and become Man, has made
Himself visible and vocal to our spiritual eyes and ears, and in Christ
God has given us an adequate goal and norm of life, a perfect pattern
("Muster") to walk by and to live by.  Here we can see both the character
of God and the measure of His expectation for us.  But we must not stop
with the Christ after the flesh, the Christ without.  He first becomes
our life and salvation when He is born within us and is revealed in our
hearts, and has become the Life of our lives.  We must eat His body,
drink His blood until our nature is one with His nature and our spirit
one in will and purpose with His spirit.[17]

Franck belongs in many respects among the mystics, but with peculiar
variations of his own from the prevailing historical type of mysticism.
He is without question saturated with the spirit of the great mystics; he
approves their inner way to God and he has learned from them to view this
world of time and space as shadow and not as reality.  No mystic,
further, could say harsher things than he does of "Reason."[18]  Human
reason--or more properly "reasoning"--has for him, as for them, a very
limited area for its demesne.  It is a good guide in the realm of earthly
affairs.  It can deal wisely with matters that affect our bodily comfort
and our social welfare, but it is "barren" in the sphere of eternal
issues.  It has no eye for realities beyond the world of three
dimensions.  It goes blind as soon as it tries to speculate about God.
He looks for no final results in spiritual matters from intellectual
dialectics, whether they be of the old scholastic type, or of the new
type of speculations, formulations and subtleties of the Protestant

Franck always comes back to _experience_ as his basis of religion, as his
way to truth and to divine things.  "Many," he says, "know and teach only
what they have picked up and gathered in, without having experienced it
{56} in the deeps of themselves."[19]  "He who wishes to know what is in
the Temple must not stand outside, merely hearing people read and talk
about God.  _That_ is all a dead thing.  He must go inside and have the
experience for himself ("selbst erfahren").  Then first everything
springs into life."[20]  But "experience" with him does not mean
enthusiastic visions and raptures.  He puts as little value on ecstasies
and emotional vapourings as he does on dialectic.  Ecstasies lead men as
often on false trails as on right tracks.  They supply no criterion of
certitude; they furnish no concrete ideas or ideals to live by; but still
further, they do not bring all the deep-lying powers of the soul into
play as any true source of religion must do.  _He_ is striving to find a
foundation-principle for the spiritual life which shall not be capricious
or sporadic, and which shall not be confined to one aspect of the inner
self, but which shall burn on as a steady illumination in the soul and be
the basis of all moral activity and all spiritual development.  He finds
this principle, as we have seen, in the Word of God, which is a divine
reality, an eternal and self-existent activity, opening upward into all
the resources of God, and at the same time forming the fundamental nature
and ground-structure of the soul.  A person may live--many persons do--in
the outer region of the self, using the natural instincts with which he
is supplied, pursuing the goals of life which appeal to common sense and
steering the earthly course by custom and by reason, but it is always
possible to have a wider range of experience, to live in deeper currents,
and to draw upon a _profounder source of insight_.  This deeper
experience--which is the basis of Franck's mysticism and, for him, the
very heart of any genuine religion--consists of a personal discovery of
this eternal Word of God within and an irradiation of the whole being
through the co-operation of the will with it.  The will is king in
man,[21] and can open or shut the gate which leads to life.  It can make
its world good or it {57} can make it evil; just as out of one and the
same flower the bee gets honey and the spider poison.[22]  It can swing
over its allegiance to God the Spirit of truth, or to the god of the
world who is anti-Christ.

This experience of the Word of God which is thus brought about by the
will of man--by an innermost personal choice--affects, Franck insists,
all the faculties of the inner life.  Reason now becomes illumined with a
Light which it never had until the gate into its deeper region was
opened.  Now, through co-operation with the Spirit of God, reason becomes
capable of higher processes, and can deal with divine things because it
has actual _data_ to work upon.  The emotions, too, are no longer blind
and instinctive, they no longer carry the will whither it would not.
They are now the overflow of an inner experience which is too rich and
full for expression,[23] which transcends the intellectual apprehension
of it, but they are spiritualized and controlled from within.  The moral
life is especially heightened, and this is for Franck one of the main
evidences that a divine source has been tapped.  The discovery of the
Word of God creates and constructs an autonomous "kingdom of the
conscience" ("Reich des Gewissens"), gives us "a thousand-fold witness of
God," and becomes to us the tree of life and the tree of knowledge.[24]

In his little book on "the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil"--a
book which was destined to have a far-reaching influence--he declares
that the Garden-of-Eden story is a mighty parable of the human soul.  All
that is told in the Genesis account is told of what goes on in the
mysterious realm within us.  It is told as though it were an external
happening, it is in reality an internal affair.  The Paradise and the
Fall, the Voice of God and the tempting voice of the serpent, the Tree of
Life and the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, are all in our own
hearts as they were in the heart of Adam.  Heaven and Hell are there.
The one stands fully revealed in the triumphant Adam, who is Christ; the
other is {58} exhibited in its awfulness in the disobedient Adam of the

As fast as the life comes under the sway of the "kingdom of conscience"
and a solid moral character is formed, the inner guidance of the Word of
God becomes more certain and more reliable.  Only the good person has a
sure and unerring perception of the truth, just as only the scientist
sees the laws of the world, and as only the musician perceives the
harmony of sounds.  Not only must all spiritual experience be subject to
the moral test, it must further be tested by the Light of God in other
men and in history, and by the _spirit of Scripture_, which is the
noblest permanent fruit of the Eternal Word.  Every person must _prove_
the authority of his religion.  He must have his heart conquered and his
mind taken captive and his will directed by his truth so that he would be
ready to face a thousand deaths for it,[25] and he must, through his
truth and insight, come into spiritual unity and co-operation with all
who form the invisible Church.

The invisible Church forms the central loyalty of Franck's fervent soul.
"The true Church," he writes, "is not a separate mass of people, not a
particular sect to be pointed out with the finger, not confined to one
time or one place; it is rather a spiritual and invisible body of all the
members of Christ, born of God, of one mind, spirit, and faith, but not
gathered in any one external city or place.  It is a Fellowship, seen
with the spiritual eye and by the inner man.  It is the assembly and
communion of all truly God-fearing, good-hearted, new-born persons in all
the world, bound together by the Holy Spirit in the peace of God and the
bonds of love--a Communion outside of which there is no salvation, no
Christ, no God, no comprehension of Scripture, no Holy Spirit, and no
Gospel.  I belong to this Fellowship.  I believe in the Communion of
saints, and I am in this Church, let me be where I may; and therefore I
no {59} longer look for Christ in lo heres or lo theres."[26]  This
Church, which the Spirit is building through the ages and in all lands,
is, once more, like the experience of the individual Christian, entirely
an inward affair.  "Love is the one mark and badge of Fellowship in
it."[27]  No outward forms of any sort seem to him necessary for
membership in this true Church.  "External gifts and offices make no
Christian, and just as little does the standing of the person, or
locality, or time, or dress, or food, or anything external.  The kingdom
of God is neither prince nor peasant, food nor drink, hat nor coat, here
nor there, yesterday nor to-morrow, baptism nor circumcision, nor
anything whatever that is external, but peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
unalloyed love out of a pure heart and good conscience, and an unfeigned

In his Apology he says that he has withdrawn "from all theological
disputations, from all sectarian statements of creed, from baptism and
all ceremonies," and "I stand now," he adds, "only for what is
fundamental and essential for salvation"--that is, vital participation in
the Life of God revealed in the soul.[29]  "I am looking," he writes in
the opening of the _Paradoxa_, "for no new and separate Church, no new
commission, no new baptism, no new dispensation.  The Church has already
been founded on Christ the Rock, and since the outward keys and
sacraments have been misused and have gone by, He now administers the
sacraments inwardly in spirit and in truth.  He baptizes His own, even in
the midst of Babylon, and feeds them with His own body, and will do so
unto the end of the world."[30]

In a letter to Campanus he says, "I am fully convinced [by a study of the
early Church Fathers] that, after the death of the apostles, the external
Church of Christ, with its gifts and sacraments, vanished from the earth
and withdrew into heaven, and is now hidden in spirit and in truth, and
for these past fourteen hundred years {60} there has existed no true
external Church and no efficacious sacraments."[31]

His valuation of Scripture fits perfectly into this religion of the
inward life and the invisible Church.  The true and essential Word of God
is the divine revelation in the soul of man.  It is the _prius_ of all
Scripture and it is the key to the spiritual meaning of all Scripture.
To substitute Scripture for the self-revealing Spirit is to put the dead
letter in the place of the living Word, the outer Ark in place of the
inner sanctuary, the sheath in place of the sword, the horn-pane Lantern
in place of the Light.[32]  This letter killed Christ in Judea; it is
killing Him now.  It has split the Church into fragments and sects and is
splitting it now.[33]  It always makes a "Babel" instead of a Church.  It
kept the Pharisees from seeing Moses face to face; it keeps men now from
seeing the Lord face to face.[34]  Franck insists that, from its inherent
nature, a written Scripture cannot be the final authority in religion:
(_a_) It is outward, external, while the seat of religion is in the soul
of man.  (_b_) It is transitory and shifting, for language is always in
process of change, and written words have different meanings to different
ages and in different countries, while for a permanent religion there
must be a living, eternal Word that fits all ages, lands, and conditions.
(_c_) Scripture is full of mystery, contradiction, and paradox which only
"The key of David"--the inner experience of the heart--can unlock.
Scripture is the Manger, but, unless the Holy Spirit comes as the day
star in the heart, the Wise man will not find the Christ.[35]  (_d_)
Scripture at best brings only knowledge.  It lacks the power to deliver
from the sin which it describes.  It cannot create the faith, the desire,
the love, the will purpose which are necessary to win that which the
Scriptures portray.  No book--no amount of "ink, paper, and letters"--can
make a man good, since religion is not knowledge, but a way of living, a
{61} transformed life, and _that_ involves an inward life-process, a
resident creative power.  "In Pentecost all books are transcended."[36]

As Franck pushes back through "the ink, paper, and letters of Scripture"
to the Spirit and Truth which these great writings reveal, when they are
read and apprehended in the light of an inward spiritual experience, so,
too, he is always seeking, _through_ the historical Christ, to find the
Eternal Christ--the ever-living, ever-present, personal Self-Revelation
of God.  He says, in his "Seven-Sealed Book," "I esteem Christ the Word
of God above all else, for without Him there is no salvation, and without
Him no one can enjoy God."[37]  "Christ," he says in the _Paradoxa_, "has
been called the Image, the Character, the Expression of God, yes, the
Glory and Effulgence of His Splendour, the very Impression of His
Substance, so that in Him God Himself is seen and heard and known.  For
it is God Himself whom we see and hear and perceive in Christ.  In Him
God becomes visible and His nature is revealed.  Everything that God is,
or knows, or wills, or possesses, or can do, is incarnated in Christ and
put before our eyes.  Everything that can be said of God can as truly be
said of Christ."[38]

But this Christ, who is the very Nature and Character of God made visible
and vocal, is, as we have seen, not limited to the historical Person who
lived in Galilee and Judea.  He is an eternal Logos, a living Word,
coming to expression, in some degree, in all times and lands, revealing
His Light through the dim lantern of many human lives--a Christ reborn in
many souls, raised again in many victorious lives, and endlessly
spreading His Kingdom through the ever-widening membership of the
invisible Church.[39]  Without this eternal revelation of Himself in a
spiritual Fellowship of many members, God would not be God, as a Vine
would not be a Vine without branches; and contrariwise there could be no
spiritual humanity without the inward immanent {62} presence of this
Self-Revealing God in Christ.[40]  As in Palestine, so everywhere,
Christ--not only Christ after the flesh, but after the Spirit--is a
crucified Christ.  Only those can open the Sealed Book--can penetrate the
divine Revelation--who bear the mark of the Cross on their forehead, who
have eaten the flesh and drunk the blood of the suffering and crucified
Christ, who have discovered that the Word of God is eternally a Word of
the Cross.[41]  God is nearest to us when He seems farthest away.  He was
nearest to Christ when He was crying: "My God, why hast Thou forsaken
me?"  So, too, now he who is nearest to the cross is nearest to God, and
where the flesh is being crucified and the end of all outward things is
reached, _there God is found_.[42]

Sin means, for Franck as for all mystics of his type, the _free choice_
of something for one's private and particular self in place of life-aims
that fulfil the good of the whole and realize the universal Will of God.
To live for the flesh instead of for the spirit, to pursue the aims of a
narrow private self where they conflict with the spirit of universal
love, to turn from the Word of God in the soul to follow the idle voices
of the moment--that is the very essence of sin.  It is not inherited, it
is self-chosen, and yet there is something in our disposition which sets
itself in array against the divine revelation within us.  The Adam-story
is a genuine life-picture.  It is a chapter out of the book of the ages,
the life of humanity.  We do not sin and fall because he did; we sin and
fall because we are human and finite, as he was, and choose the darkness
instead of the Light, prefer Satan to God, pursue the way of death
instead of the way of Life, as he did.[43]

This will be sufficient to show the essential character of the religion
of this lonely man and to present the main tendencies of his bold and
independent thought.  He had no desire to be the head of a party; he was
too remote {63} from the currents of evangelical Christianity to impress
the common people whom he loved, and he was too radical a thinker to lead
even the scholars who had become liberated from tradition by their
humanistic studies and by historical insight.  He was a kind of
sixteenth-century Heraclitus, seeing the flow and flux of all things
temporal, finding paradox and contradiction everywhere, discovering life
to be a clash of opposites, with its "way up" and its "way down," on the
surface a pessimist, but at the heart of himself an optimist; and
finally, beneath all the folly of history and all the sin and stupidity
of human life, seeing with the eye of his spirit One Eternal Logos who
steers all things toward purpose, who suffers as a Lamb slain for the
flock, who reveals His Truth and Life in the sanctuary of the soul, and
who through the ages is building an invisible Church, a divine Kingdom of
many members, in whom He lives as the Life of their lives.

[1] Troeltsch calls him a "literarischer Prophet der alleinigen
Erlösungskraft des Geistes und des inneren Wortes," _Die Soziallehren_,
p. 886.

[2] See article by M. Cunitz in _Nouvelle Revue de Théologie_, vol. v. p.

[3] See Alfred Hegler's _Geist und Schrift bei Sebastian Franck_
(Freiburg), 1892, pp. 28-48.

[4] See next chapter for an account of Caspar Schwenckfeld.

[5] This Letter to Campanus, written originally in Latin, is extant in a
Dutch translation, "Eyn Brieff van Sebastiaen Franck van Weirdt,
geschreven over etlicken jaren in Latijn, tho synen vriendt Johan
Campaen."  See Hegler, _op. cit._ pp. 50-53.

[6] _Chronica und Beschreibung der Türkey_ (Nurnberg, 1530), K. 3 b.

[7] My copy is the first edition, printed in Strasbourg by Balthasser
Beck, 1531.

[8] _Chronica_, p. 452 b.

[9] These three books were included in a volume entitled _Die vier
kronbüchlein_ (1534).

[10] _Das verbütschterte Buch_, p. 5.

[11] Pp. 5-8 of the Apologia to _Das verbütschierte Buch_.

[12] See _Apologia_, p. 2.

[13] _Ibid._ p. 3.

[14] Hegler, _op. cit._ p. 98.

[15] _Die guldin Arch_, Preface 3b-4a.

[16] _Paradoxa_, sec. 101.

[17] _Paradoxa_, sec. 99 and 138.

[18] Franck translated both Erasmus' _Praise of Folly_ and Agrippa's
_Vanity of Arts and Sciences_.

[19] _Moriae Encomion_, p. 149.

[20] _Paradoxa_, Vorrede, sec. 13.

[21] _Moriae Enc._ p. 97b.

[22] _Paradoxa_, sec. 29.

[23] _Moriae Enc._ p. 93a.

[24] _Paradoxa_, sec. 63.

[25] _Moriae Enc._ p. 110.  For the testing of the Word, see Hegler, _op.
cit._ pp. 117-119.

[26] _Paradoxa_, Vorrede, sec. 8.

[27] _Paradoxa_, sec. 9.

[28] _Ibid._ sec. 45.

[29] _Das verbütschierte Buch_, Apology, p. 11.

[30] _Paradoxa_, Vorrede, sec. 8.

[31] This Letter is preserved in J. G. Schellhorn's _Amoenitates
literariae_ (1729), xi. pp. 59-61.

[32] _Paradoxa_, Vorrede, sec. 4.

[33] _Ibid._ sec. 6.

[34] _Ibid._ sec. 2.

[35] See _Das verbütschierte Buch_, passim.

[36] Quoted from Hegler, _op. cit._ p. 104.

[37] _Das verbütschierte Buch_, p. 3.

[38] _Paradoxa_, sec. 101.

[39] _Ibid._ sec. 101.

[40] _Paradoxa_, sec. 8.

[41] _Das verbütschierte Buch_, pp. 6-9, and _Paradoxa_, sec. 41.

[42] _Paradoxa_, sec. 41 and 42.

[43] _Moriae Enc._ p. 111.  _Paradoxa_, passim, especially sec. 28-32.
See also Hegler _op. cit._ pp. 127-136.




Among all the Reformers of the sixteenth century who worked at the
immense task of recovering, purifying, and restating the Christian
Faith, no one was nobler in life and personality, and no one was more
uncompromisingly dedicated to the mission of bringing into the life of
the people a type of Christianity winnowed clean from the husks of
superstition and tradition and grounded in ethical and spiritual
reality, than was Caspar Schwenckfeld, the Silesian noble.  No one, to
a greater degree than he, succeeded in going behind, not only
Scholastic formulations but even behind Pauline interpretations of
Christ, to Christ Himself.  The aspects of the Christ-life which
powerfully moved him were very different from {65} those which moved
Francis of Assisi three centuries earlier, but the two men had this
much in common--they both went to Jesus Christ for the source and
inspiration of their religion, they both lived under the spell of that
dominating Personality of the Gospels, they both felt the power of the
Cross and saw with their inner spirits that the real healing of the
human soul and the eternal destiny of man were indissolubly bound up
with the Person of Christ.[2]  Here again, as in the early years of the
thirteenth century, there came a gentle Reformer of religion, who would
use no compulsion but love, who knew how to suffer patiently with his
Lord, and whose entire programme was the restoration of primitive
Christianity, though of necessity it would be restored, if at all, in
terms of the spiritual ideals of the sixteenth century, as the
Christianity of St. Francis had been in terms of thirteenth-century

Caspar Schwenckfeld was born of a noble family in the duchy of
Liegnitz, in Lower Silesia, in 1489.  He studied in Cologne, in
Frankfurt-on-the-Oder, and probably also in the University of Erfurt,
though he attained no University degree.  His period of systematic
study being over, about 1511 he threw himself into the life of a
courtier, with the prospect of a successful worldly career before him.
Luther's heroic contest against the evils and corruptions of the Church
and his proclamation of a Reforming faith shook the prosperous courtier
wide awake and turned the currents of his life powerfully toward
religion.  He deeply felt at this time, what he expressed a few years
later, that a new world was coming to birth and the old one dying away.
To the end of his days, and in spite of the harsh treatment which he
later received from the Wittenberg Reformer, Schwenckfeld always
remembered that it was the prophetic trumpet-call of Luther which had
summoned him to a new life, and he always carried about with him in his
long exile--an exile for which Luther was largely responsible--a
beautiful respect and {66} appreciation for the man who had first
turned him to a knowledge of the truth.[3]

From the very beginning of his awakening he shows the moral earnestness
of a prophet, and even in his earliest writings he emphasizes the
inwardness of true religion and the importance of a personal experience
of the living, creative Divine Word.[4]  As a result of this passion of
his for the formation of moral and spiritual character in the lives of
the people, he was very acute and sensitive to note the condition which
actually existed around him, and he was not long in detecting, much to
his sorrow, aspects of weakness in the new type of Christianity which
was spreading over Germany.  Even as early as 1524, in _An Admonition
to all the Brethren of Silesia_[5] he called attention to the
superficiality of the change which was taking place in men's lives as a
result of the Reformation--"the lack of inward grasp" as he calls
it--and to the externality of the new Reform, the tendency to stop at
"alphabetical promises of salvation."  He gives a searching examination
to the central principles of Luther's teachings and approves of them
all, but at the same time he points out that little will be gained if
they be adopted only as intellectual statements and formulated views.
He pleads for a faith in Christ and an appreciation of Him that shall
"reach the deep regions of the spirit," renew the heart, and produce a
new man in the believer--"the atoning work of Christ must be
vital"--and for a type of religion that will involve suffering with
Christ, real conformity of will to His will, dying to self and rising
again with Him, which means that we cannot "take the {67} cross at its
softest spot."[6]  He calls with glowing passion for a radical
transformation of personal and social life, and for a serious attempt
to revive primitive Christianity with its conquering power.

Luther himself was always impressed with the lack of real, intense,
personal religion which resulted from the Reformation movement, and he
often bewailed this lack.  He said once to Schwenckfeld in this early
period, "Dear Caspar, genuine Christians are none too common.  I wish I
could see two together in a place!"  But with all his titanic power to
shake the old Church, Luther was not able to sift away the accumulated
chaff of the ages and to seize upon the inward, living kernel of
Christ's Gospel in such a real and vivid presentation that men were
once again able to find the entire Christ, and were once again lifted
into apostolic power through the discovery of Him.  This was the task
to which Schwenckfeld now felt himself summoned.  It seemed to him that
the entire basis of salvation should be grasped in a way quite
different from Luther's way of formulation, and this called for a
restatement of the whole revelation of God in Christ and of the work of
Christ in the soul of man.[7]

Luther's final break with the spiritual Reformer of Silesia, which
occurred in 1527, was primarily occasioned by Schwenckfeld's teaching
on the meaning and value of the Lord's Supper, though their difference
was by no means confined to that point.  Schwenckfeld's position had
culminated in 1526 in a suspension of the celebration of the Lord's
Supper--the so-called _Stillstand_--until a right understanding and
true practice of it according to the will of the Lord should be
revealed.[8]  "We know at present of no apostolic commission," he
wrote, "nor {68} again do we make any claim to be regarded as apostles,
for we have neither received the fulness of the Holy Spirit nor the
apostolic seal for such an office.  We dwell in humility and ascribe
nothing to ourselves, except that we bear witness to Christ, invite men
to Christ, preach Christ and His infinite work of salvation, and labour
as much as we can that Christ may be truly known."[9]

Into the bitter controversy over the Sacrament--a controversy between
noble and sincere Reformers, which forms the supreme internal tragedy
of the Reformation--we need not now enter.  We shall in the proper
place give Schwenckfeld's position upon it, though only in so far as it
belongs in an exposition of his type of spiritual Christianity; but the
immediate effect of his position and practices was such a collision
with Luther, and the arousal of such hostility on the part of the
Lutherans of Silesia, that the continued pursuit of Schwenckfeld's
mission in that country became impossible.  He was, however, not
expelled by edict, but under compulsion of the existing situation; and
in order not to be a trouble to his friend, the Duke of Liegnitz, he
went in 1529 into voluntary exile, never to return.  For thirty years
he was a wanderer without a permanent home on the earth, but he could
thank his Lord Christ, as he did, for granting him through all these
years an inward freedom, and for bringing him into "His castle of
Peace."  He once wrote: "If I had wanted a good place on earth, if I
had cared more for temporal than for eternal things, and if I would
have deserted my Christ, then I might have stayed in my fatherland and
in my own house, and I might have had the powerful of this world for my

He sojourned for longer or shorter periods in Strasbourg, Augsburg,
Ulm, and other cities, but nowhere was he safe from his enemies, and he
always faced the prospect of banishment even from his place of
temporary sojourn.  {69} Furious declarations were passed against him
by the Schmalkald League in 1540, for to his anti-Lutheran views on the
sacraments he had now added teachings on the nature of Christ which the
theologians pronounced unorthodox.  Three years later he sent a
messenger to Luther in hope of a friendly understanding.  Luther's
answer was brief and final: "The stupid fool, possessed by the devil,
understands nothing.  He does not know what he is babbling.  But if he
won't stop his drivel, let him at least not bother me with the booklets
which the devil spues out of him."[11]  At the ministerial Council of
Protestant States in 1556 Schwenckfeld was denounced in the most
vituperous language of the period, and the civil authorities were urged
to proceed against him as a dangerous heretic.  He always had,
notwithstanding this pursuit of theological hate, many powerful
friends, and a large number of brave and devoted followers who were
glad to risk goods, home, and life for the sake of what was to them the
living Word of God.  He died--or as his friends preferred to say, he
had a quiet and peaceful "home passage"--at Ulm in 1561.  Of the
purity, the brave sincerity, the nobility, the outward and inward
consistency of his life there is no question.  His enemies had no word
to say which reflected upon the motives of his heart or upon the
genuine piety of his life.  His religion cost him all that he held dear
in the outer world--he had not taken "the cross at the softest
spot"--and he practised his faith as the most precious thing a man
could possess in this world or in any other.

We must now turn to a study of his type of Christianity, which will be
presented here not in the order of its historical development, but as
it appears in perspective in his life and writings.  He does not ground
his conception of salvation, his idea of religion _überhaupt_, as the
humanistic Reformers, Denck, Bünderlin, Entfelder, and Franck, do, on
the essentially divine nature of the {70} soul in its deepest
reality,[12] nor again as the medieval mystics do, on the substantial
presence within the soul of a divine soul-centre, an unlost and
inalienable Spark or Image of God which can turn back home and unite
itself with its Source, the Godhead.  He begins, as Luther does, with
man "fallen," "dead in sin," by nature "blind and deaf" to divine
realities.  For him, as for Luther, there exists no _natural_ freedom
of the will, by which a person can spontaneously and of his own
initiative rise up, shake off the shackles of sin, and go to living as
a son of God.  This stupendous event, this absolute shift of the
life-level, comes, and can come, he thinks, only through an act of God,
directly, immediately wrought upon the soul.  Salvation must be a
supernatural event.  Through this act of God from above there results
within the soul an experience which in every respect is a new creation.
It is a cataclysmic event of the same order as the _fiat lux_ of cosmic
creation, a rebirth through which the man who has it once again comes
into the condition Adam was in before he fell.

Everything which has to do with salvation in Schwenckfeld's
Christianity goes back to the historical Christ.[13]  Christ is the
first-born of this new creation.  He is the first "new Adam," who by
His triumphant life and victorious resurrection has become for ever "a
life-giving Spirit," the creative Principle of a new humanity.  In
Christ the Word of God, the actual Divine Seed of God, became flesh,
entered into our human nature and penetrated it with Spirit and with
Life, conquered its stubborn bent toward sin, and transfigured and
transformed this human flesh into a divine and heavenly substance.  By
obedience to the complete will of God, even to the extreme depths of
suffering, sacrifice, and death on the Cross for {71} the love of men,
Christ glorified human flesh, exalted it from flesh to spirit, and in
His resurrected heavenly life He is able to unite Himself inwardly with
the souls of believers, so that His spiritual resurrected flesh and
blood can be their food and drink, and He can become the life-giving
source of a new order of humanity, the spiritual Head of a new race.
"If the soul of man," he wrote, "is to be truly nourished, vitally fed
and watered, so that it comes into possession of Eternal Life, it must
die to its fleshly life and _receive into itself a divine and spiritual
Life, having its source in the Being of God and mediated to the soul by
the living, inward-working Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ_," through
which mediation we come into spiritual union and vital fellowship with
God who is Spirit.[14]

Salvation for Schwenckfeld, therefore, is participation in the life of
this new creation, this new world-order.  To become a Christian, in his
sense of the word, is to pass over one of the most decisive watersheds
in the universe, to go from one kingdom to another kingdom of a higher
rank.  The _process_--for it is a vital process--is from beginning to
end in the realm of experience.  By the exercise of faith in the
crucified, risen, and glorified God-Man, as the life-giving Spirit,
real power from a higher world streams into the soul.  Something
"pneumatic," something which belongs ontologically to a higher
spiritual world-order, comes into the person as a divinely bestowed
germ-plasm, with living, renewing, organizing power.  As with Irenaeus,
so with Schwenckfeld, salvation is "real redemption," the "deification"
of mortal man, the actual formation of an immortal nature, the
restoration of humanity to what it originally was, through the
in-streaming life-energy of a mystical Adam-Christ, the Founder and
Head of a new spiritual race.[15]

By this incoming spiritual power and life-substance the entire
personality of the recipient is affected.  The {72} recreative energy
which pours in transforms both soul and body.  The inner eternal Word
of God, who became flesh, acts upon the inner nature of man, so that
the believing man is changed into something spiritual, divine and
heavenly, and like Jesus Christ, the incarnated Word of God.[16]  There
comes, with this epoch-making experience, a sense of freedom not known
before, a power of control over the body and its appetites, an
illumination of the intellect, a new sensitiveness of conscience to the
meaning of sin, an extraordinary expansion of the vision of the goal of
life--which is a full-grown man in Christ,--and an apprehension of the
gift of the Spirit sufficient for the achievement of that goal.  Not
least among the signs of transfiguration and of heightened life is the
attainment of a joy which spreads through the inward spirit and shines
on the face--a joy which can turn hard exile into a _Ruheschloss_, "a
castle of peace."

Those who have experienced this dynamic transfiguration gain thereby
gifts, capacities, and powers to hear the Word of God within their own
souls, and thus this Word, which is the same life-giving Spirit that
became flesh in Christ and that produces the new creation in man,
becomes a perpetual inward Teacher in those who are reborn.  "Precious
gifts of the Holy Ghost flow from the essential Being of God into the
heart of the believer."  There is, Schwenckfeld holds, a double
revelation of God.  The primary Word of God is eternal, spiritual,
inward.  "The Word, when spiritual messengers preach or teach, is of
two kinds with a decided difference in their manner of working.  One is
of God, even is God, and lives and works in the heart of the messenger.
This is the inner Word, and is in reality nothing else than the
continued manifestation of Christ.  He is inwardly revealed, and heard
with the inward ears of the heart."[17]  It is, in fact, God Himself
_operating_ as Life and Spirit and Light upon the spiritual substance
of the human soul, first as the Life-Seed which forms the new creation
in man, and afterwards as the permanent {73} nourishing and tutoring
Spirit who leads the obedient soul on into all the Truth, and perfects
it into the likeness and stature of Christ.  "There is a living, inner
Scripture, written in the believer's heart by the finger of God."
"This inner Scripture has an active creative power of holiness, and
makes holy, living, righteous and saved all those in whose hearts it is

The _divine word_ in the secondary sense is the outward word--the word
of Scripture.  "The other word which serves the inner Word with voice,
sound, and expression is the external word, and is heard by the
external man with his ears of sense, and is written and read in
letters.  He who has read and heard only that, and not the inner Word,
has not heard the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Grace, nor has he
received or understood it."[18]  It is at best only the witness or
testimony which assists the soul to find the real life-giving Word.
Cut apart from the inner spiritual Word, the word of the letter is
"dead," as the body would be if sundered from the spirit.  "It paints
truth powerfully for the eye, but it cannot bring it into the
heart."[19]  "The Scriptures cannot bring to the soul that of which
they speak.  This must be sought directly from God Himself."[20]  In
his practical use of Scripture and in his estimate of its importance he
is hardly behind Luther himself.  "There is," he says, "no writing on
earth like the Holy Scriptures."[21]  His Christianity is penetrated
and illuminated at every point by the profound spiritual experiences of
the saints of the Bible, and still more by the vivid portraits of
Christ in the Gospels, by the words from His lips recorded there, and
by the experiences of the apostles and the development of the primitive
Church.  He never doubts or questions the inspiration of the
Scriptures; quite the contrary, he holds that Scripture is "given by
God" and is an inexhaustible well of inspired truth from which the soul
can endlessly draw.  The actual content of Christian faith is supplied
by the historical revelation; {74} but Schwenckfeld always insists that
written words, however inspired, are still external to the soul, and
merely record historical events which have happened to others in other
ages.  "If man," he writes, "is to understand spiritual things and is
to know and judge rightly, he must bring the divine Light to the
Scriptures, the Spirit to the letter, the Truth to the picture, and the
Master to His created work. . . .  In a word, to understand the
Scriptures a man must become a new man, a man of God; he must be in
Christ who gave forth the Scriptures."[2]  That which is to change the
inner nature of a man must be something personally experienced and not
external to him; must be in its own nature as spiritual as the soul
itself is and not material, as written words are.  "The pen cannot
completely bring the heart to the paper, nor can the mouth entirely
express the well of living water within itself."[23]  The Bible leads
to Christ and bears witness of Him as no other book does, but it is not
Christ.  And even the Bible remains a closed book until Christ opens
it.[24]  The Scriptures tell, as no other writings do, of the Word of
God and its life-operations in the world, but they are still not the
Word of God.  The spiritual realities of life cannot be settled by
laboriously piling up texts of Scripture, by subtle theological
dialectic, or by learned exegesis of sacred words.  If these spiritual
realities are to become real and effective to us, it must be through
the direct relation of the human spirit with the divine Spirit--the
inward spiritual Word of God.[25]  "He who will see the truth must have
God for eyes."[26]

Schwenckfeld's view of the process of salvation and the permanent
illumination of the reborn soul by a real incoming divine
substance--whether called Word or Seed--is the _dynamic_ feature of his
Christianity.  He is endeavouring to find a foundation for a religious
energism that will avoid the dangers which beset Luther's principle
{75} of "justification by faith."  From the inception of the
Reformation movement there had appeared a tendency to regard the
exercise of "faith" as all that was required for human salvation.
Luther did not mean it so, but it was the easy line of least resistance
to hold that "faith" had a magic effect in the invisible realm, that is
to say: As soon as a person exercised "faith," God counted the "faith"
for righteousness, and regarded that person as "justified."  The
important operation was thus in a region outside the soul.  The
momentous shift was not in the personal character of the individual,
but in the way the individual was regarded and valued in the heavenly
estimates.  It was the discovery of the prevalence of this crude and
magical reliance on "faith" which first drove Schwenckfeld to a deeper
study of the problems of religion.  It was the necessity that he felt
to discover some way by which man himself could be actually renewed,
transformed, recreated, and _made_ righteous--rather than merely
counted or reckoned righteous by some magical transaction--that made
him an independent reformer and set him on his solitary way.

To this deep and central question of religion, How is a human soul
saved? there were in Schwenckfeld's day four well-known answers:

(1) There was the answer of the Church in which he was born.  Salvation
is by Grace, mediated through the sacramental channels of the
mysterious and divinely founded Church.  Man's part consists in the
performance of the "works" which the Church requires of him and the
proper use of the sacramental means of Grace.  Through these
sacramental channels actual Grace, substantial divine help, comes into
man and works the miracle of salvation in him.

(2) There was the answer of the great mystics, not always clear and
simple, but very profound and significant.  The Ground and the Abyss of
the soul is one substance with the eternal and absolute Godhead.
Finite strivings, isolated purposes, selfish aims, centrifugal pursuits
are vain and illusory.  We lose our lives in so far as we live {76} in
self-will and in self-centred joys.  The way home, the way of
salvation, is a return to that Ground-Reality from which we have gone
out--a return to union and oneness of Life with the infinite Godhead.

(3) The third answer is that of Luther: "Salvation is by faith."  This
seems at first to be a dynamic answer.  It breaks in on the distracted
world like a new moral trumpet-call to the soul.  It comes to men like
a fresh Copernican insight which discovers a new religious
world-centre.  The soul by its own inward vision, by its moral
attitude, by the swing of the will, can initiate a new relation with
God, and so produce a new inward kingdom.  That, however, is not
Luther's message.  He could not take that optimistic view of life
because it implied that man has within himself a native capacity for
God, and can rise to the vision and attitude which lead to a moral
renewal of the self.  Luther never succeeded in clearing his principle
from scholastic complications.  He never put it upon a moral and
dynamic foundation.  It remains to the last a mysterious principle, and
was easily open to the antinomian interpretation, that upon the
exercise of faith God for Christ's merits "counts man justified"--an
interpretation dear to those who are slack-minded and prone to forensic
schemes of salvation.

(4) The fourth view was that of the humanist-spiritual Reformers, men
of the type of Denck and Bünderlin, who are the precursors of what we
to-day call the ethical way of salvation.  They assume that salvation
is from beginning to end a moral process.  God is in essence and nature
a loving, self-revealing, self-giving God, who has in all ages unveiled
Himself in revelations suited to the spiritual stature of man, has in
the fulness of time become incarnate in Christ, and forever pleads with
men through His Spirit to come to Him.  Those who see and hear, those
who respond and co-operate, _i.e._ those who exercise faith, are
thereby morally transformed into an inward likeness to Him, and so
enter upon a life which prefers light to darkness, goodness to sin,
love to hate.


Schwenckfeld was not satisfied with any of these views.  He knew and
loved the mystics, but he was too much impressed with the mighty Life
and message of the historical Christ to adopt the mystic's way.  He
felt that Lutheran Christianity was too scholastic, too dependent on
externals, too inclined to an antinomian use of "faith."  He could not
go along the path of the Humanist-Spirituals, for he believed that man
had been ruined in the Fall, was too deeply scarred with sin to help
himself, was without freewill, was devoid of native capacity for
spiritual vision and saving faith.  Salvation, if it is to be effected
at all, must be initiated by Divine Grace and must be accomplished _for
man_ by God.  But it could be for Schwenckfeld no forensic adjustment,
no change of reckoning in the heavenly ledgers.  "Justification," he
once wrote, "is not only forgiveness of sins, but it is more, it is the
actual healing and renewing of the inward man."[27]  It must involve a
real and radical transformation of man's nature--man must cease from
sin and the love of it, he must receive from beyond himself a passion
for goodness and a power to enable him to achieve it.  The _passion_
for goodness, in Schwenckfeld's view, is created through the vision of
the God-Man who has suffered and died on the Cross for us, and has been
glorified in absolute newness of life; and the _power_ for moral
holiness is supplied to the soul by the direct inflowing of divine
Life-streams from this new Adam, who is henceforth the Head of the
spiritual order of humanity, the Life-giving Spirit who renews all who
receive Him in faith.  "Faith," he says, "is a penetrating stream of
light flowing out from the central divine Light and Fire, which is God
Himself, into our hearts by which we are inflamed with love for God and
for our neighbour, and by which we see both what we lack in ourselves
and what can abundantly supply our lack, so that we may be made ready
for the Kingdom of God and be prepared to become children of God."[28]
"Real faith," he elsewhere says, "that is to say, justifying faith, can
come from nothing {78} external.  It is a gracious and gratuitous gift
of God through the Holy Spirit.  It is an emanation ["Tröpflein"] from
the eternal Life of God, and is of the same essence and substance as
God Himself."[29]  It is, in fact, the Eternal Word of God become vocal
and vital within the inner region of our own lives.[30]

The Church, in Schwenckfeld's conception, is this complete spiritual
community of which Christ is the Head.  "We maintain," he wrote in the
early period of his mission, and it remained the settled view of his
life, "that the Christian Church according to the usage of the
Scripture is the congregation or assembly of all or of many who with
heart and soul are believers in Christ, whose Head is Christ our Lord,
as St. Paul writes to the Ephesians and elsewhere, and who are born of
God's Word alone, and are nourished and ruled by God's Word."[31]  "The
Christian Church," he elsewhere says, "is the entire community of the
children of God.  It is the actual Body of Christ, the Seed of Abraham,
the House of the living God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  It has its
life and power through the obedience of faith, it manifests to the
world the Name of the Lord, the goodness and the glory of Him who
called its members from darkness into His marvellous Light.  Wherever
such a Church is gathered, there also is Christ, its Head, who governs
it, teaches it, guards and defends it, works in it and pours His Life
into its members, to each according to the measure of his living faith.
This inward invisible Christ belongs to all ages and all times and
lands."[32]  The Church, in its true life and power, is thus for him a
continuation of the apostolic type.  He had no interest in the
formation of a sectarian denomination, and he was fundamentally averse
to a State-Church system.  The true Church community can be identified
with no temporal, empirical organization--whether established or
separatist.  It is a spiritual invisible community as wide as the
world, including all persons in all regions of {79} the earth and in
all religious communions who are joined in life and spirit to the
Divine Head.  It expands and is enlarged by a process of organic growth
under the organizing direction of the Holy Spirit.  "As often," he
writes, "as a new warrior comes to the heavenly army, as often as a
poor sinner repents, the body of Christ becomes larger, the King more
splendid, His Kingdom stronger, His might more perfect.  Not that God
becomes greater or more perfect in His essence, but that flesh becomes
more perfect in God, and God dwells in all His fulness in the flesh
into which in Jesus Christ He ever more pours Himself."[33]  Each soul
that enters the _kingdom of experience_ through the work of the
Life-giving Spirit is builded into this invisible expanding Church of
the ages, and is endowed with some "gift" to become an organ of the
Divine Head.  All spiritual service arises through the definite call
and commission of God, and the persons so called and commissioned are
rightly prepared for their service, not by election and ordination, but
by inward compulsion and illumination through the Word of God.  The
preacher possesses no magical efficacy.  His only power lies in his
spiritual experience, his clarified vision, and his organic connection
with Christ the Head of the Church and the source of its energy.  If
his life is spiritually poor and weak and thin, if it lacks moral
passion and insight, his ministry will be correspondingly ineffective
and futile, for the dynamic spiritual impact of a life is in proportion
to its personal experience and its moral capacity to transmit divine
power.  Here again the emphasis is on the moral aspect of religion as
contrasted with the magical.  There can be no severing of the
ecclesiastical office or function from the moral character of the
person himself.  Schwenckfeld has cut away completely from
sacerdotalism and has returned, as far as with his limited historical
insight he knew how to do it, to the ideal of the primitive Apostolic
Church.  The true mark and sign of membership in the community of
saints--the invisible Church--is, for him as for St. Paul, {80}
possession of the mind of Christ, faith, patience, integrity, peace,
unity of spirit, the power of God, joy in the Holy Ghost, and the
abounding gifts and fruits of the Spirit.  "No outward unity or
uniformity, either in doctrine or ceremonies, or rules or sacraments,
can make a Christian Church; but inner unity of spirit, of heart, soul
and conscience in Christ and in the knowledge of Him, a unity in love
and faith, does make a Church of Christ."[34]  The Church is in a very
true sense bone of Christ's bone and flesh of His flesh, vitalized by
His blood, empowered by His real presence, and formed into an organism
which reveals and exhibits the divine and heavenly Life--a world-order
as far above the natural human life as that is above the plant.

Quite consistently with this spiritual view of religion--this view that
the true Church is an invisible Church--Schwenckfeld taught that the
true sacrament is an inner and spiritual sacrament, and not legal and
external like those of the Old Testament.  "God must Himself, apart
from all external means, through Christ touch the soul, speak in it,
work in it, if we are to experience salvation and eternal life."[35]
The direct incoming of the Divine Spirit, producing a rebirth and a new
creation in the man himself, is the only baptism which avails with God
or which makes any difference in the actual condition of man.  Baptism
in its true significance is the reception of cleansing power, it is an
inward process which purifies the heart, illuminates the conscience,
and is not only necessary for salvation but in fact _is_ salvation.
Christian baptism is therefore not with water, but with Christ: it is
the immersion of the soul in the life-giving streams of Christ's
spiritual presence.

Schwenckfeld was always kindly disposed toward the Anabaptists, but he
was not of them.  He presented a very different type of Christianity to
their type, which he penetratingly criticized, though in a kindly
spirit.  He did not approve of rebaptism, for he insisted that the
all-important matter was not how or when water was applied, {81} but
the reception of _Christ's real baptism_, an inner baptism, a baptism
of spirit and power, by which the believing soul, the inner man, is
clarified, strengthened, and made pure.[36]

His view of the Lord's Supper in the same way fits his entire
conception of Christianity as an inward religion.  It was through his
study of the meaning and significance of the Supper that he arrived at
his peculiar and unique type of religion.  He began his meditation with
the practical test--the case of Judas.  If the bread and wine of the
Last Supper were identical with the body and blood of Christ, then
Judas must have eaten of Christ as the other disciples did, and,
notwithstanding his evil spirit, he must have received the divine
nature into himself--but that is impossible.

In his intellectual difficulty he turned to the great mystical
discourse in the sixth chapter of John, in the final interpretation of
which he received important suggestion and help from Valentine
Crautwald, Lector of the Dom in Liegnitz.  In this remarkable discourse
Christ promises to feed His disciples, His followers, with His own
flesh and blood, by which they will partake of the eternal nature and
enter with Him into a resurrection life.  The "flesh and blood" here
offered to men cannot refer to an outward sacrament which is eaten in a
physical way, because in the very same discourse Christ says that
outward, physical flesh profits nothing.  It is the Spirit that gives
life, and, therefore, the "flesh and blood" of Christ must be
synonymous with the Word if they are actually to recreate and nourish
the soul and to renew and vitalize the spirit of man.

This feeding and renewing of the soul through Christ's "flesh and
blood," Schwenckfeld treats, as we have seen, not as a figure or
symbol, but as a literal fact of Christian experience.  Through the
exercise of faith in the person of the crucified, risen, and glorified
Christ--the creative Adam--incorruptible, life-giving substance comes
into the soul and transfigures it.  Something from the divine {82} and
heavenly world, something from that spiritualized and glorified nature
of Christ, becomes the actual food of man's spirit, so that through it
he partakes of the same nature as that of the God-Man.  Not once or
twice, but as a continuous experience, the soul may share this glorious
meal of spiritual renewal--this eating and drinking of Christ.

The external supper--and for that matter the external baptism too--may
have a place in the Church of Christ as a pictorial symbol of the
actual experience, or as a visible profession of faith, but this
outward sign is, in his view, of little moment, and must not occupy the
foreground of attention, nor be made a subject of polemic or of
insistence.  The new Creation, the response of faith to the living
Word, the transfiguration of life into the likeness of Christ, are the
momentous facts of a Christian experience, and none of these things is
_mediated_ by external ceremonies.

It was his ideal purpose to promote the formation of little groups of
spiritual Christians which should live in the land in quietness, and
spread by an inward power and inspiration received from above.  He saw
clearly that no true Reformation could be carried through by edicts or
by the proclamations of rulers, or by the decision of councils.  A
permanent work, from his point of view, could be accomplished only by
the slow and patient development of the religious life and spiritual
experience of the people, since the goal which he sought was the
formation, not of state-made Churches, but of renewed personal lives,
awakened consciences, burning moral passion, and first-hand conviction
of immediate relation with the World of Divine Reality.  To this work
of arousing individual souls to these deeper issues of life, and of
building up little scattered societies under the headship of Christ,
which should be, as it were, oases of the Kingdom of God in the world,
he dedicated his years of exile.  All such quiet inward movements
progress, as Christ foresaw, too slowly and gradually "for
observation"; but this method of reforming the Church through rebirth
and the creation of Christ-guided societies {83} accomplished, even
during Schwenckfeld's life, impressive results.  There were many, not
only in Silesia but in all regions which the missionary-reformer was
able to reach, who "preferred salt and bread in the school of Christ"
to ease and plenty elsewhere, and they formed their little groups in
the midst of a hostile world.  The public records of Augsburg reveal
the existence, during Schwenckfeld's life, of a remarkable group of
these quiet, spiritual worshippers in that city.  Their leaders were
men of menial occupations--men who would have attracted no notice from
the officials of city or Church if they had been contented to conform
to any prevailing or recognized type of religion.  Under the
inspiration which they received from the writings of Schwenckfeld they
formed "a little meeting"--in every respect like a seventeenth-century
Quaker meeting--in their own homes, meeting about in turn, discarding
all use of sacraments, and waiting on God for edification rather than
on public preaching.  They read the books and epistles of Schwenckfeld
in their gatherings, they wrote epistles to other groups of
Schwenckfeldians, and received epistles in turn and read them in their
gatherings.  They objected to any form of religious exercise which
seemed to them incomprehensible to their spirits and which did not
spring directly out of the inward ministry of the Word of God.  They
were eventually discovered, their leaders banished, their books burned,
and their little meeting of "quiet spirituals" ("stillen Frommen") as
they called themselves was ruthlessly stamped out.[37]  Societies
something like this were formed in scores of places, and continued to
cultivate their inward piety in the Fatherland, until harried by
persecution they migrated in 1734 to Pennsylvania, where they have
continued to maintain their community life until the present day.

But the most important effect of Schwenckfeld's life and work must not
be sought in the history of these {84} visible societies which owed
their origin to his apostolic activity.  His first concern was always
for the building of the invisible community of God throughout the whole
world--not for the promotion of a sect--and his greatest contribution
will be found in the silent, often unnoticed, propagation of his
spirit, the contagious dissemination of his ideas, the gradual
influence of his truth and insight upon Christian communions and upon
individual believers that hardly knew his name.  His correspondence was
extraordinarily extensive; his books and tracts, which were legion,
found eager readers and transmitters, and slowly--too slowly for
observation--the spiritual message of the homeless reformer made its
way into the inner life of faithful souls, who in all lands were
praying for the consolation of God's new Israel.  Even so early as
1551, an English writer, Wyllyam Turner, in a book written as "a
preservative and treacle against the poyson of Pelagius," especially as
"renewed" in the "furious secte of the Annabaptistes," mentions the
"Swengfeldianes" as one of the heads of "this monstre in many poyntes
lyke unto the watersnake with seven heads."[38]  There is, however,
slight evidence of the spread of Schwenckfeld's views, whether they be
called "poyson" or "treacle," in England during the sixteenth century,
though they are clearly in evidence in the seventeenth century.  One of
the most obvious signs of his influence in the seventeenth century,
both in England and in Holland, appears in the spread of principles
which were embodied in the "Collegiants" of Holland and the
corresponding societies of "Seekers" in England.[39]  The cardinal
principle of these groups in both countries was the belief that the
visible Church had become apostate and had lost its divine
authoritative power, that it now lacked apostolic ministry and
efficacious sacraments and "the gifts of the Spirit" which demonstrate
the true apostolic succession.  Therefore those who held this view,
"like doves without their mates," were _waiting_ and _seeking_ for the
appearing of a {85} new apostolic commission, for the fresh outpouring
of God's Spirit on men, and for the refounding of the Church, as
originally, in actual demonstration and power.

It was a settled view of Schwenckfeld's that the visible Church had
lost its original power and authority, and he cherished, too, a
persistent faith and hope that in God's good time it would again be
restored to its pristine vitality and its original conquering power.
"We ask," he writes, "where in the world to-day there is gathered
together an external Church of the apostolic form and type, and
according to the will of Christ."[40]  And yet scattered everywhere
throughout the world--even in Turkey and Calcutta[41]--God has, he
says, His own faithful people, known only to Him, who live Christlike
and holy lives, whom Christ the living Word, that became flesh,
baptizes inwardly with the Holy Spirit and inwardly feeds without
external preaching or sacrament, writes His law in their hearts and
guides into Eternal Life.[42]  But the time is coming when once more
there will be in the world an apostolic and completely reformed Church
of Christ, His living body and the organ of the Spirit, with divine
gifts and powers and commission.  In the interim let the chosen
children of God, he writes, rejoice and comfort themselves in this,
that their salvation rests neither in an external Church, nor in the
external use of sacraments, nor in any external thing, but that it
rests alone in Jesus Christ our Lord, and is received through true and
living faith.[43]

For Schwenckfeld himself the important matter was the increase of this
inward life, the silent growth of this kingdom of God in the hearts of
men, the spread of this invisible Church, but his writings plainly
suggest that God will eventually restore the former glory to His
visible Church.  "You are," he says, in one of his epistles, "to pray
earnestly that God will raise up true apostles and preachers and
evangelists, so that His Church may {86} be reformed in Christ, edified
in the Holy Ghost, and unified into one, and so that our boasting of
the pure preaching of the Gospel and the right understanding and use of
the sacraments may be true before God,"[44] and the time is coming, we
may in good faith believe, when the sacraments will be used according
to the will of Christ, and then there will be a true Christian Church,
taught outwardly by apostolic ministers and taught inwardly by the Lord
Himself.[45]  Fortunately, however, salvation does not depend upon
anything outward, and during the _Stillstand_ or interim there is no
danger to be feared from the intermission of outward ceremonies.[46]

Sebastian Franck graphically describes this waiting, seeking attitude
as well known in his time.  He wrote in his "Chronicle" (1531): "Some
are ready to allow Baptism and other ceremonies to remain in abeyance
["stilston," evidently Schwenckfeld's _Stillstand_] until God gives a
further command and sends true labourers into His harvest-field.  For
this some have great longings and yearnings and wish nothing else."[47]
The intense _expectation_ which the Seekers, both in Holland and
England, exhibit was, of course, a much later development, was due to
many influences, and is connected only indirectly with the reforming
work and the Gospel message of Schwenckfeld.  It indicates, in the
exaggerated emphasis of the Seekers, a failure to grasp the deeper
significance of spiritual Christianity as a present reality, and it
misses the truth, which the world has so painfully slowly grasped, that
the only way to form an apostolic and efficacious visible Church is not
through sudden miracles and cataclysmic "restorations" and
"commissions," but by the slow contagion and conquering power of this
inward kingdom, of this invisible Church, as it becomes the spirit and
life of the outward and visible Church.  This truth the Silesian
reformer knew full well, and for this reason he was ready at all costs
to be a quiet apostle of the invisible Community of God and let the
outward {87} organism and organ of its ministry come in God's own way.
The nobler men among the English Seekers, as also among the Dutch
Societies, rose gradually to this larger view of spiritual religion,
and came to realize, as Schwenckfeld did, that the real processes of
salvation are inward and dynamic.  Samuel Rutherford is not a very safe
witness in matters which involve impartial judgment, or which concern
types of spiritual experience foreign to his own type, but he is
following a real clew when he connects, as he does, the leaders of
spiritual, inward religion in his day, especially those who had shared
the seeker aspirations, with Schwenckfeld.[48]  Rutherford's account is
thoroughly unfair and full of inaccuracies, but it suffices at least to
reveal the fact that Schwenckfeld was a living force in the period of
the English Commonwealth, and that, though almost a hundred years had
passed since his "home-passage" from Ulm was accomplished, he was still
making disciples for the ever-enlarging community and household of God.

[1] The most important material for a study of Schwenckfeld is the

_Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum_, edited by C. D. Hartranft.  Published
Leipzig, vol. i. (1907); vol. ii. (1911); vol. iii. (1913).  Other
volumes to follow.

_Schriften von Kaspar Schwenckfeld_, in 4 folio volumes.  Published
between the years 1564-1570.  Indicated in my notes as vol. i., vol.
ii., vol. iii. A, vol. iii. B.  There are, too, many uncollected books
and tracts, to some of which I refer in footnotes.

Karl Ecke, _Schwenckfeld, Luther, und der Gedanke einer apostolischen
Reformation_ (Berlin, 1911).  Important book, but to be followed with

R. H. Grützmacher, _Wort und Geist_ (Leipzig, 1902).

Gottfried Arnold, _Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historien_, i. pp. 1246-1299.
(Edition of 1740.)

H. W. Erbkam, _Geschichte der prolestantischen Sekten im Zeitaller der
Reformation_ (Hamburg und Gotha, 1848), pp. 357-475.

Döllinger, _Die Reformation_, i. pp. 257-280.

Ernst Troeltsch, _Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und
Gruppen_ (Tübingen, 1912), pp. 881-886.

[2] Christ, Schwenckfeld insisted, is the sum of the whole Bible, and
to learn to know Christ fundamentally is to grasp the substance of the
entire Scripture.

[3] He wrote in 1543 to Luther: "I owe to you in God and the truth all
honour, love, and goodwill, because from the first I have reaped much
fruit from your service, and I have not ceased to pray for you
according to my poor powers."--_Schriften_, ii. p. 701 d.

[4] In _An Epistle to the Sisters in the Cloister at Naumberg_, written
probably in the autumn of 1523, he says: "A true Christian life in its
essential requirements does not consist in external appearance . . .
but quite the contrary, it does consist in personal trust in God
through an experience of Jesus Christ, which the Holy Ghost brings
forth in the heart by the hearing of the Divine Word."--_Corpus
Schwenckfeldianorum_, i. p. 118.

[5] _Ermahnung dess Missbrauchs etlicher fürnemsten Artikel des
Evangelii_ (1524).  _Corpus Schw._ ii. pp. 26-105.

[6] "Wir greyffen das Creutz noch am waichsten Ort an."--_Ermahnung
dess Missbrauchs_.  Corpus Schw. ii. p. 89.

[7] "There are now in general two parties that make wrong use of the
Gospel of Christ, one of which turns to the right and the other to the
left of the only true and straight way.  The first party is that of the
Papacy . . . the other party consists of those to whom God has now
granted a gracious light--But!"--_Ermahnung dess Missbrauchs_.

[8] The _Stillstand_ was proposed in a _Circular Letter_ written by
Schwenckfeld, Valentine Crautwald, and the Liegnitz Pastors, April 21,
1526.--_Corpus Schwenckfeld_, i. pp. 325-333.

[9] The revival of this idea of a _Stillstand_, that is, of a
suspension of certain time-honoured practices of the Church until a
further revelation and new enduement should be granted, will be
referred to in later chapters, especially in connection with the
_Collegiants_ of Holland and the English _Seekers_.

[10] Ecke, _op. cit._ p. 217.

[11] Arnold, _op. cit._ ii. p. 251.  There are many similar references
to Schwenckfeld in Luther's _Table Talk_, and he usually calls him by
the opprobrious name of "Stenkfeld."

[12] "Ein natürliches Licht kennt Schwenckfeld nicht."--Grützmacher,
_Wort und Grist_ (Leipzig, 1902), p. 168.

[13] The important data for Schwenckfeld's doctrine of Christ and the
way of salvation will be found in the following writings by him:--

_Von der göttlichen Kindschaft und Herrlichkeit des ganzen Sones
Gottes_ (1538).

_Ermanunge zum wahren und selig machende Erkänntnis Christi_ (1539).

_Konfession und Erklärung von Erkänntnus Christi und seiner göttlichen
Herrlichkeit_ (1540).

[14] _Schriften_, i. p. 664.  See also p. 662.

[15] For the doctrine of deification in Irenaeus see Harnack, _Hist. of
Dogma_, ii. pp. 230-318.

[16] See _Schriften_, i. p. 768.

[17] _Ibid._ i. p. 767 a.

[18] _Schriften_, i. p. 767 a.

[19] _Die heilige Schrift_. x. d.

[20] _Ibid._ cviii. c.

[21] _Ibid._ ii. b.

[22] _Die heilige Schrift._ vi. and vii.

[23] _Vom Worte Gottes_, xxii. c.

[24] _Die heilige Schrift._ iv. b.

[25] _Catechismus vom Wort des Creütses, vom Wort Gottes, und vom
Underscheide des Worts des Geists und Buchstabens._

[26] _Die heilige Schrift._ iv. c.

[27] _Schriften_, i. p. 725.

[28] _Ibid._ i. p. 634.

[29] _Schriften_, i. p. 380.

[30] See _ibid._ ii. p. 421.

[31] _Corpus Schwenck._ i. p. 295.

[32] _Schriften_, iii. A.

[33] _Schriften_, ii. p. 290.

[34] _Schriften_, ii. p. 785.

[35] _Ibid._ i. p. 768 b.

[36] _Schriften_, i. p. 513.  For a criticism of the legalism of the
Anabaptists see _ibid._ i. pp. 801-808.

[37] The details are given in Friederich Roth's _Augsburgs
Reformations-Geschichte_ (München, 1907), iii. p. 245 ff.

[38] _A Preservative or Treacle against the Poyson of Pelagius, etc._
(1551), A iii.

[39] For a fuller account of the Collegiants see Chap. VII.

[40] _Schriften_, iii. B, p. 572.

[41] _Ibid._ ii. p. 783.

[42] _Ibid._ a. p. 784.

[43] _Ibid._ iii. A, p. 146.

[44] _Schriften_, ii. p. 785.

[45] _Ibid._ ii. p. 783.

[46] _Ibid._ iii. A, p. 74.

[47] Franck's _Chronica_ (1531), p. ccccli.

[48] Rutherford, _A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist_ (1648), chap. v.




Reformation history has been far too closely confined to a few main
highways of thought, and few persons therefore realize how rich in
ideas and how complex in typical religious conceptions this spiritual
upheaval really was.  The types that prevailed and won their way to
wide favour have naturally compelled attention and are adequately
known.  There were, however, very serious and impressive attempts made
to give the Reformation a totally different course from the one it
finally took in history, and these attempts, defeated by the sweep of
the main current, became submerged, and their dedicated and heroic
leaders became forgotten.  Many of these spiritual ventures which for
the moment failed and were submerged are in striking parallelism with
currents of thought to-day, and our generation can perhaps appreciate
at their real worth these solitary souls who were destined to see their
cause defeated, to hear their names defamed, and to live in jeopardy
among the very people whom they most longed to help.

Sebastian Castellio is one of these submerged venturers.  While he
lived he was so absolutely absorbed in the battle for truth that he
took no pains at all to acquaint posterity with the details of his
life, or to make his name quick and powerful in the ears of men.  When
he died {89} and laid down the weapons of his spiritual warfare his
pious opponents thanked God for the relief and did what they could to
consign him to oblivion.  But after the long and silent flow of years
the world has come up to his position and can appreciate a spirit who
was too far in advance of the line of march to be comprehended in his
lifetime.  He was born in the little French village of St. Martin du
Fresne--not many miles west of Lake Geneva in the year 1515.  The home
was pinched with poverty, but somebody in the home or in the village
discovered that little Bastian was endowed with unusual gifts and must
be given the chance to realize the life which his youth forecast; and
that ancient family sacrifice, which has glorified so many homes of
poverty, was made here in St. Martin, and the boy, possessed with his
eager passion for knowledge, was started on his course in the Collège
de la Trinité in Lyons.  He soon found himself bursting into a new
world, the world of classic antiquity, which the Humanists were
restoring to the youth of that period, and he experienced that
emancipating leap of soul and thrill of joy which such a world of
beauty can produce upon a lofty spirit that sees and appreciates it.
Some time during the Lyons period he came also under a still greater
and more emancipating influence, the divine and simple Christ of the
Gospels, whom the most serious of the Humanists had rediscovered, and
to whom Castellio now dedicated the central loyalty of his soul.

At twenty-five years of age, now a splendid classical scholar, radiant
with faith and hope and the vision of a new age for humanity which the
recovered gospel was to bring in, Castellio went to Strasbourg to share
the task of the Reformers and to put his life into the new movement.
Calvin, then living in Strasbourg, received the brilliant recruit with
joy and took him into his own home.  When the great Reformer returned
to Geneva in 1541 to take up the mighty task of his life he summoned
Castellio to help him, and made him Principal of the College of Geneva,
which Calvin planned to make one of the {90} foremost seats of Greek
learning and one of the most illuminating centres for the study of the
Scriptures.  The young scholar's career seemed assured.  He had the
friendship of Calvin, he was head of an important institution of
learning, the opportunity for creative literary work was opening before
him, and he was aspiring soon to fulfil the clearest call of his
life--to become a minister of the new gospel.  His first contribution
to religious literature was his volume of "Sacred Dialogues," a series
of vivid scenes out of the Old and New Testaments, told in dialogue
fashion, both in Latin and French.[2]  They were to serve a double
purpose: first, to teach French boys to read Latin, and secondly, to
form in them a love for the great characters of the Bible and an
appreciation of its lofty message of life.  The stories were really
good stories, simple enough for children, and yet freighted with a
depth of meaning which made them suitable for mature minds.  Their
success was extraordinary, and their fine quality was almost
universally recognized.  They went through twenty-eight editions in
their author's lifetime, and they were translated into many
languages.[3]  His bent toward a religion of a deeply ethical and
spiritual type already appears in this early work, and here he
announces a principle that was to rule his later life and was to cost
him much suffering: "The friend of Truth obeys not the multitude _but
the Truth_."

At the very time this book was appearing, an opportunity offered for
testing the mettle of his courage.  One of those ever-recurrent plagues
that harassed former ages, before microbes were discovered, fell upon
Geneva.  The minister, who had volunteered to give spiritual comfort to
those who were suffering with the plague in the hospital, was stricken
with the dread disease, and a new volunteer was asked for.  The records
of the city show that Castellio, though not yet ordained, and under no
obligation to take such risk, offered himself for the {91} hazardous
service when the ministers of the city declined it.  The ordination
through human hands was, however, never to come to him, and a harder
test of courage than the plague was before him.  In the course of his
studies he found himself compelled to take the position that the "Song
of Solomon" was an ancient love poem, and that the traditional
interpretation of it as a revelation of the true relation between
Christ and the Church was a strained and unnatural interpretation.  He
also felt that as a scholar he could not with intellectual honesty
agree with the statement in the Catechism that "Christ descended into
Hell."  Calvin challenged both these positions of Castellio, but his
opposition to him was clearly far deeper than a difference of opinion
on these two points.  Calvin instinctively felt that the bold and
independent spirit of this young scholar, his qualities of leadership,
and his literary genius marked him out as a man who could not long be
an easy-minded and supple subordinate.  A letter which Calvin wrote at
this time to his friend Viret shows where the real tension lay.
"Castellio has got it into his head," he writes, "that I want to rule!"
The great Reformer may not have been conscious yet of such a purpose,
but there can be no question that Castellio read the signs correctly,
and he was to be the first, as Buisson has said, to discover that "to
resist Calvin was in the mind of the latter, to resist the Holy
Ghost."[4]  Calvin successfully opposed his ordination, and made it
impossible for him to continue in Geneva his work as an honest scholar.
To remain meant that he must surrender his right of independent
judgment, he must cease to follow the line of emancipated scholarship,
he must adjust his conscience to fit the ideas that were coming to be
counted orthodox in the circle of the Reformed faith.  _That_ surrender
he could no more make than Luther could surrender to the demands of his
opponents at Worms.  He quietly closed up his work in the College of
Geneva and went into voluntary exile, to seek a sphere of life where he
might think and speak as {92} he saw the truth and where he could keep
his conscience a pure virgin.

He settled in Basle, where Erasmus had found a refuge, and where, two
years before, the exiled and hunted Sebastian Franck, the spiritual
forerunner of Castellio, had died in peace.  For ten years (1545-1555)
he lived with his large family in pitiable poverty.  He read proof for
the Humanist printer Oporin, he fished with a boat-hook for drift-wood
along the shores of the Rhine,--"rude labour no doubt," he says, "but
honest, and I do not blush for having done it,"--and he did whatever
honest work he could find that would help keep body and soul together.
Through all these years, every moment of the day that could be saved
from bread-winning toil, and much of his night-time, went into the
herculean task to which he had dedicated himself--the complete
translation of the Bible from its original languages into both Latin
and French.[5]  Being himself one of the common people he always had
the interests and needs of the common people in view, and he put the
Bible into current sixteenth-century speech.  His French translation
has the marked characteristics of the Renaissance period.  He makes
patriarchs, prophets, and the persons of the New Testament live again
in his vivid word-pictures, as the great contemporary painters were
making them live on their canvases.  But that which gave his
translation its great human merit and popular interest was a serious
defect in the eyes of the theologians.  It was vivid, full of the
native Oriental colour, true in the main to the original, and strong in
its appeal to religious imagination, but painfully weak in its support
of the dogmas and doctrines around which the theological battles of the
Reformation were centring.  Still less were the theologians pleased
with the Preface of his Latin Bible, dedicated to the boy-king of
England, Edward VI.  Here he boldly insists that the Reformation, {93}
wherever it spreads, shall champion the principle of _free conscience_,
and shall wage its battles with spiritual weapons alone.  The only
enemies of our faith, he says, are vices, and vices can be conquered
only by virtues.  The Christ who said if they strike you on one cheek
turn the other, has called us to the spiritual task of instructing men
in the truth, and that work can never be put into the hands of an
executioner!  "I address you, O king," he concludes, "not as a prophet
sent from God, but as a man of the people who abhors quarrels and
hatred, and who wishes to see religion spread by love rather than by
fierce controversy, by purity of heart rather than by external methods.
. . .  Read these sacred writings with a pious and religious heart, and
prepare yourself to reign as a mortal man who must give an account to
immortal God.  I desire that you may have the meekness of Moses, the
piety of David, and the wisdom of Solomon."[6]

Two years after this appeal to the new Protestantism to make the great
venture of spreading its truth by love and persuasion, there came from
Geneva the decisive answer in the burning of Servetus, followed by the
famous _Defence_ before the world, written mainly by Calvin, of the
course that had been taken.  One month later, a brief Latin work
appeared from the press with the title, _De haereticis, an sint
persequendi, etc._ (Magdeburgi, 1554), followed in very short time by a
French edition (Rouen, 1554).  The body of the work contained
impressive passages in favour of toleration from Church Fathers, from
Luther, Erasmus, Sebastian Franck, and others, concluding with a
passage from "Basil Montfort," a name which thinly veils Bastian
Castellio himself.  The Preface was addressed to the Duke of
Wurtemberg, bore the name of "Martinus Bellius," and was beyond doubt
written by Castellio, who inspired and directed the entire work, in
which he was assisted by a very small group of refugees in Basle of
similar ideas on this subject to his {94} own.  This Preface is one of
the mother documents on freedom of conscience, from which in time came
a large offspring, and it is, furthermore, an interesting
interpretation of a type of Christianity then somewhat new in the
world.  Its simplicity, its human appeal, its restrained emotional
power, its prophetic tone, its sincerity and depth of earnestness mark
it as a distinct work of genius, almost in the class with Pascal's
_Provincial Letters_.

"If thou, illustrious Prince, had informed thy subjects that thou wert
coming to visit them at an unnamed time and had requested them to be
prepared in white garments to meet thee on thy coming; what wouldst
thou do, if, on arrival, thou shouldst find that instead of robing
themselves in white they had occupied themselves in violent debate
about thy person--some insisting that thou wert in France, others that
thou wert in Spain; some declaring that thou would come on horseback,
others that thou would come by chariot; some holding that thou would
come with great pomp, others that thou would come without train or
following?  And what especially wouldst thou say if they debated not
only with words but with blows of fist and strokes of sword, and if
some succeeded in killing and destroying others who differed from them?
'He will come on horseback.'  'No, he won't; he will come by chariot.'
'You lie.'  'No, I do not; _you_ are the liar.'  'Take _that_'--a blow
with the fist.  'You take _that_'--a sword-thrust through the body.  O
Prince, what would you think of such citizens?  Christ asked us to put
on the white robes of a pure and holy life, but what occupies our
thought?  We dispute not only of the way to Christ, but of His relation
to God the Father, of the Trinity, of predestination, of free will, of
the nature of God, of angels, of the condition of the soul after
death,--of a multitude of matters that are not essential for salvation,
and _matters, in fact, which never can be known until our hearts are
pure, for they are things which must be spiritually perceived_."

With a striking boldness, but with beautiful simplicity of spirit, he
describes "an honest follower of Christ"--and {95} it is himself whom
he is describing--"who believes in God the Father and in His Son Jesus
Christ, and who wants to do His will, but cannot see that will just as
others about him see it, in matters of intellectual formulation and in
matters of external practice."  "I cannot," he adds, "do violence to my
conscience for fear of disobeying Christ.  I must be saved or lost by
my own personal faith, not by that of another.  I ask you, whether
Christ, who forgave those who went astray, and commanded His followers
to forgive until seventy times seven, Christ who is the final Judge of
us all, if He were here, would command a person like that to be killed!
. . .  O Christ, Creator and King of the world," he cries out, "dost
Thou see and approve these things?  Hast Thou become a totally
different person from what Thou wert?  When Thou wert on earth, nothing
could be more gentle and kind, more ready to suffer injuries.  Thou
wert like a sheep dumb before the shearers.  Beaten, spit upon, mocked,
crowned with thorns, crucified between thieves, Thou didst pray for
those who injured Thee.  Hast Thou changed to this?  Art Thou now so
cruel and contrary to Thyself?  Dost Thou command that those who do not
understand Thy ordinances and commandments as those over us require,
should be drowned, or drawn and quartered, and burned at the stake!"

The Christian world holds this view now.  It is a part of the necessary
air we breathe.  But at this crisis in modern history it was
unforgivably _new_.[7]  One man's soul had the vision, one man's entire
moral fibre throbbed with passion for it, and his rich intellectual
nature pleaded for it as the only course of reason: "To burn a man is
not to defend a doctrine, it is to _burn a man_!"  But it was a voice
crying in a wilderness, and from henceforth Castellio was a marked and
dangerous man in the eyes of all who were opposed to "Bellianism "--as
the principle of toleration was nicknamed in honour of Martinus
Bellius--and that included almost all the world.  But to the end of his
life, and in almost every one of his multitudinous {96} tracts he
continued to announce the principle of religious liberty, and to work
for a type of Christianity which depended for its conquering power
solely on its inherent truth and on its moral dynamic.

Calvin, who recognized the hand of Castellio in this powerful defence
of freedom of thought, called his opponent "a monster full of poison
and madness," and proceeded to demolish him in a Reply.  In his _Contra
libellum Calvini_, which is an answer to this Reply, Castellio declares
that Calvin's act in burning Servetus was a bloody act, and that now
his book is a direct menace to honest, pious people.  "I," he adds,
"who have a horror of blood, propose to examine the book.  I do not
defend Servetus.  I have never read his books.  Calvin burned them
together with their author.  I do not want to burn Calvin or to burn
his book.  I am only going to _answer_ it."  He notes that Calvin
complains of "novelties and innovations," a strange complaint, he
thinks, from a man who "has introduced more innovations in ten years
than the entire Church had introduced in six centuries!"  All the
sects, he reminds the great Reformer, claim to be founded on the Word
of God.  They all believe that their religion is true.  Calvin says
that his is _the only true one_.  Each of the others says that his is
the only true one.  Calvin says that they are wrong.  He makes himself
(by what right I do not know) the judge and sovereign arbiter.  He
claims that he has on his side the sure evidence of the Word of God.
Then why does he write so many books to prove what is evident?  The
truth is surely not evident to those who die denying that it is truth!
Calvin asks how doctrine is to be guarded if heretics are not to be
punished.  "Doctrine," cries Castellio, "Christ's doctrine means loving
one's enemies, returning good for evil, having a pure heart and a
hunger and thirst for righteousness.  _You_ may return to Moses if you
will, but for us others Christ has come."

Love, he constantly insists, is the supreme badge of any true
Christianity, and the traits of the beatitudes in a person's life are a
surer evidence that he belongs in {97} Christ's family, than is the
fact that he holds current opinions on obscure questions of belief.
"Before God," he writes in his _Defensio_, a work of the year 1562, to
those who wish to hunt him off the face of the earth, "and from the
bottom of my heart, I call you to the spirit of love."  "By the bowels
of Christ, I ask and implore you to leave me in peace, to stop
persecuting me.  Let me have the liberty of my faith as you have of
yours.  At the heart of religion I am one with you.  It is in reality
the same religion; only on certain points of interpretation I see
differently from you.  But however we differ in opinion, why cannot we
love one another?"

He was, however, never to have the peace for which he pleaded, and he
was never to experience the love and brotherly kindness for which he
longed.  Whole sheaves of fiery arrows were shot at him, and in tract
after tract he had to see himself called "monster," "wretch," "dog,"
"pest," "fog-bank," and finally to see himself proclaimed to the world
as a petty thief "who was supporting himself by stealing wood from his
neighbours"!  With beautiful dignity Castellio tells the story of how
he fished for public drift-wood on the shores of the Rhine, and how he
kept his family alive by honest toil, when he was living in pitiable
poverty, "to which," he says to Calvin, "everybody knows that thy
attacks had brought me."  "I cannot conceive how thou of all persons,
thou who knowest me, can have believed a tale of theft about me, and in
any case have told it to others."[9]

Compelled, as he was, to see the Reformation take what seemed to him
the false course--the course of defending itself by persecution, of
buttressing itself on election, of elevating, through a new
scholasticism, doctrine above life,--he turned more and more, as time
went on, toward interior religion, the cultivation of an inner
sanctuary, the deepening of the mystical roots of his life, and the
perfection of a religion of inner and spiritual life.  "I have never
taken holy things lightly," {98} he once wrote, and in the later years
of what proved to be his brief as well as stormy life, he drew nearer
to Christ as the Life of his life, and laboured with deepening passion
to practise and present a religion of veracity, of reality and of
transforming power.  "It is certain," he says in his _Contra libellum
Calvini_, "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and there is
furthermore no doubt about the worth of love--love to God and love to
man.  There is no doubt, again, of the worth of forgiveness, of
patience, of pity, of kindness, and of obedience to duty.  Why leave
these sure things and quarrel over inscrutable mysteries?"

This point that the things which are essential to salvation are clear
and luminous is a frequently occurring one in his writings.
Impenetrable mysteries do not interest him, and he declares with
reiteration that controversies and divisions are occasioned mainly by
the proclamation of dogma on these inscrutable things.  In a remarkable
work, which remains still in manuscript--his _De arte dubitandi et
confidendi, sciendi et ignorandi_,--he pleads for a religion that fits
the facts of life and for the use of intelligence even in these lofty
matters of spiritual experience where most astonishing miracles occur.
He returns, in this writing, to his old position that the truths which
concern salvation are clear and appeal powerfully to human reason.
"There are, I know," he says, "persons who insist that we should
believe even against reason.  It is, however, the worst of all errors,
and it is laid upon me to fight it.  I may not be able to exterminate
the monster, but I hope to give it such a blow that it will know that
it has been hit.  Let no one think that he is doing wrong in using his
mental faculties.  It is our proper way of arriving at the truth."[9]

Without entering in detail into the bottomless controversy of those
times, let us endeavour to get an adequate view of Castellio's type of
Christianity, and then we shall be able to form an estimate of the man
who in the {99} strong power of his faith stood almost alone as the
great battle of words raged around him.[10]

Those on the other side of the controversy began always from the
opposite end of the spiritual universe to his point of departure.
_They_ were fascinated with the mysteries of the Eternal Will, and used
all the keys of their logic to unlock the mysteries of foreknowledge,
predestination, and grace which has wrought the miracle of salvation
for the elect.  Castellio, on the other hand, in true modern fashion,
starts always with the concrete, the near and the known, to work upward
to the nature of the unknown.  We must, he says, try to discover the
Divine attributes and the Divine Character by first finding out what
our own deepest nature implies.  If God is to speak to us it must be in
terms of our nature.  Before undertaking to fathom with the plummet of
logic the unsoundable mystery of foreknowledge, let us see what we can
know through a return to the real nature of man as he is, and
especially to the real nature of the new Adam who is Christ, the Son of
God.  Man, as both Scripture and his own inner self testify, is made
_in the image of God_, is dowered with freedom to determine his own
destiny, may go upward into light, or downward into darkness.  Man thus
made, when put to trial, _failed_, followed lower instincts instead of
higher, and experienced the awful penalty of sin, namely its cumulative
power, the tendency of sin to beget sin, and to make higher choices
ever more difficult.  Christ, however, the new Adam, has _succeeded_.
He has completely revealed the way of obedience, the way in which
spirit conquers flesh.  He is the new kind of Person who lives from
above and who exhibits the cumulative power of goodness.  His victory,
which was won by His own free choice, inspires all men who see it with
faith and hope in man's spiritual possibilities.  Castellio declines to
discuss Christ's metaphysical nature, except in so far as His life has
revealed {100} it to us.  He sees in Him the Heart and Character of
God, the certainty of Divine love and forgiveness, and the way of life
for all who desire to be spiritually saved, which means, for him, the
formation of a new inward self, a purified nature, a morally
transformed man, a will which no longer loves or wills sin.  "Christ
alone," he says, "can heal the malady of the soul, but He can heal it."
"There is," he says again, "no other way of salvation for any man than
the way of self-denial.  He must put off his old man and put on
Christ--however much blood and sweat the struggle may cost."  Man, he
insists, is always wrong when he represents God as angry.  Christ
showed that God needed no appeasing, but rather that man needed to be
brought back to God by the drawing of Love, and be reconciled to Him.

Faith--which for every prophet of human redemption is the key that
unlocks all doors for the soul--is for Castellio the supreme moral
force by which man turns God's revelations of Himself into spiritual
victories and into personal conquests of character.  It is never
something forensic, something magical.  It is, as little, mere belief
of historical facts and events.  It is, on the contrary, a moral power
that moves mountains of difficulty, works miracles of transformation,
and enables the person who has it to participate in the life of God.
It is a passionate leap ("élan") of the soul of the creature toward the
Creator; it is a way of renewing strength in Him and of becoming a
participator in His divine nature.  It is a return of the soul to its
source.  It is a _persistent will_, which multiplies one's strength a
hundredfold, makes Pentecost possible again, and enables us to achieve
the goal which the vision of our heart sees.  The only obstacle to this
all-conquering faith is selfishness, the only mortal enemy is

There have been, Castellio holds, progressive stages in the Divine
education of the race, and in man's apprehension of God.  The mark of
advance is always found in the progress from law and letter to spirit,
and from {101} outward practices and ceremonies to inward experience.
Divine revelations can always be taken at different levels.  They can
be seen in a literal, pictorial, temporal way, or they can be read
deeper--by those who are purified by faith and love, and made partakers
of the self-giving Life of God--as eternal and spiritual realities.
The written word of God is the garment of the Divine Thought which is
the real Word of God.  It takes more than eyes of flesh to see through
the temporal garment to the inner Life and Spirit beneath.  Only the
person who has in himself the illumination of the same Spirit that gave
the original revelation can see through the garment of the letter to
the eternal message, the ever-living Word hidden within.[12]  In the
Christianity of the full-grown spiritual man, sacraments and everything
external must be used only as pictorial helps and symbolic suggestions
for the furtherance of spiritual life.  Within us, as direct offspring
of God, as image of God, there is a Divine Reason, which existed before
books, before rites, before the foundation of the world, and will exist
after books and rites have vanished, and the world has gone to wreck.
It can no more be abolished than God Himself can be.  It was by this
that Jesus Christ, the Son of God--called, in fact, Logos of God--lived
and taught us how to live.  It was in the Light of this that He
transcended books and rites and declared, without quoting text, "God is
Spirit and thou shalt worship God in spirit and in truth."  This Reason
is in all ages the right investigator and interpreter of Truth, even
though time changes outward things and written texts grow corrupt.[13]

As his life was drawing to a close, he sent forth anonymously another
powerful prophet-call for the complete liberation of mind and
conscience.  Ten years before the awful deeds of St. Bartholomew's Day,
he issued his little French book with the title _Conseil à la France
désolée_--Counsel {102} to France in her Distress.  It is a calm and
penetrating diagnosis of the evils which are destroying the life of
France and working her desolation.  It throbs with noble patriotism and
is full of real prophetic insight, though he spoke to deaf ears and
wrote for blind eyes.  The woes of France--her torn and distracted
condition--are mainly due to the blind and foolish method of attempting
to force intelligent men to accept a form of religion which in their
hearts they do not believe is true.  There can be no united people,
strong and happy, until the blunder of compelling conscience entirely
ceases.  He pleads in tenderness and love with both religious parties,
Catholics and Evangelicals, to leave the outgrown legalism of Moses and
go to the Gospels for a religion which leads into truth and freedom.
"O France, France," he cries--as formerly a greater One had said, "O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem"--"my counsel is that thou cease to compel men's
consciences, that thou cease to kill and to persecute, that thou grant
to men who believe in Jesus Christ the privilege of serving God
according to their own innermost faith and not according to some one
else's faith.  And you, that are private people, do not be so ready to
follow those who lead you astray and push you to take up arms and kill
your brothers.  And Thou, O Lord our Saviour, wilt Thou give to us all
grace to awake and come to our senses before it is forever too late.
I, at least, have now done my duty and spoken my word of truth."  St.
Bartholomew's Day was the answer to this searching appeal, and the
land, deaf to the call of its prophet, was to become more "desolate"

Just as the storm of persecution that had been gathering around him for
years was about to burst pitilessly upon him in 1563, he quietly died,
worn out in body, and "passed to where beyond these voices there is
peace."  His students in the University of Basle, where, in spite of
the opposition from Geneva, he had been Professor of Greek for ten
years, bore his coffin in honour on their shoulders to his grave, and
his little band of disciples devoted themselves to spreading, in
Holland and wherever {103} they could find soil for it, the precious
seed of his truth, which had in later years a very wide harvest.[14]

He was not a theologian of the Reformation type.  He did not think the
thoughts nor speak the dialect of his contemporaries.  They need not be
blamed for thanking God at his death nor for seeing in him an
arch-enemy of their work.  They were honestly working for one goal, and
he was as honestly living by the light of a far different ideal.  The
spiritual discipline of the modern world was to come through their
laborious systems, but he, anticipating the results of the travail and
the slow spiral progress, and seeing in clear vision the triumph of
man's liberated spirit, with exuberant optimism believed that the
religion of the Spirit could be had for the taking--and he stretched
out his hand for it!

"I am," he cried out beneath the bludgeons, "a poor little man, more
than simple, humble and peaceable, with no desire for glory, only
affirming what in my heart I believe; why cannot I live and say my
honest word and have your love?"  The time was not ready for him, but
he did his day's work with loyalty, sincerity, and bravery, and seen in
perspective is worthy to be honoured as a hero and a saint.[15]

[1] F. Buisson, _Sébastien Castellion, sa vie et son oeuvre_ (Paris,
1892), 2 vols.; Charles Jarrin, _Deux Oubliés_ (Bourg, 1889); Émile
Broussoux, Sébastien Castellion, sa vie, ses oeuvres, et sa théologie
(Strasbourg, 1867); A. Schweizer, _Die protestantischen Centraldogmen_
(Zürich, 1854), pp. 311-373.

[2] _Dialogi sacri, latino-gallici, ad linguas moresque puerorum
formandos_.  Liber primus.  Genève, 1543.

[3] There were at least three English translations--1610, 1715, and

[4] Buisson, _op. cit._ i. p. 205.

[5] His Latin Bible appeared in 1551 and the French Bible in 1555.
During this period he also brought out a new edition of his "Sacred
Dialogues," an edition of Xenophon, a translation of the Sibylline
Oracles, a Latin poem on Jonah, and a Greek poem on John the Baptist,
the Forerunner.

[6] Calvin, in striking contrast, had written to the same boy-king in
1548: "Under the cover of the Gospel, foolish people would throw
everything into confusion.  Others cling to the superstitions of the
Antichrist at Rome.  _They all deserve to be repressed by the sword
which is committed to you_."

[7] Beza called it "diabolical doctrine."

[8] He selected as the title of this book the opprobrious word which
Calvin had used in the charge--_Harpago_, _i.e._ "Boat-hook."

[9] This MS. is in the Bibliothèque de l'Église des Remontrants in
Rotterdam.  I have used only the extracts given from it in Buisson and

[10] The main lines of Castellio's Christianity can be found in his
_Dialogi quatuor_: (i.) De praedestinatione, (ii.) De electione, (iii.)
De libero arbitrio, (iv.) De fide (Gouda, 1613) and in his _Scripta
selecta_.  (1596).

[11] For Faith see _De fide and De arts dub._ ii. 212.

[12] This idea comes out in his Preface to the Bible, in his _Moses
latinus_, and in his manuscript work, _De arte dubitandi_.

[13] _De arte dubitandi_.

[14] Under the nom-de-plume of John Theophilus, Castellio translated
the _Theologia Germanica_ into Latin, and published it with an
Introduction.  His translation carried this "golden book" of mystical
religion into very wide circulation, and became a powerful influence,
especially in England, as we shall see, in reproducing a similar type
of religious thought.

The Quaker William Caton, who spent the latter part of his life in
Holland, cites Castellio seven times in his Tract, _The Testimony of a
Cloud of Witnesses, who in their Generation have testified against that
horrible Evil of Forcing of Conscience and Persecution about Matters of
Religion_ (1662), and he seems very familiar with his writings.  He
also cites Schwenckfeld and Franck on pp. 37 and 17 respectively.

[15] Castellio's plea for toleration, _Traité des Hérétiques à savoir,
si on les doit persécuter_ (Rouen, 1554), has just been reissued in
attractive form in Geneva, edited by Olivet and Choisy.




The struggle for political liberty in the Netherlands forms one of the
most dramatic and impressive chapters in modern history, but the story of
the long struggle in these same Provinces for the right to believe and to
think according to the dictates of conscience is hardly less dramatic and
impressive.  Everybody knows that during the early years of the
seventeenth century Holland was the one country in Europe which furnished
cities of refuge for the persecuted and hunted exponents of unpopular
faiths, and that the little band of Pilgrims who brought their precious
seed to the new world had first preserved and nurtured it in a safe
asylum among the Dutch; but the slow spiritual travail that won this soul
freedom, and the brave work of spreading, on that soil, a religion of
personal insight and individual experience are not so well known.[1]  The
growth and development of this great movement, with its numerous
ramifications and differentiations, obviously cannot be told here, but
one or two specimen lines of the movement will be briefly studied for the
light they throw upon this general type of religion under consideration,
and for their specific influence {105} upon corresponding spiritual
movements in England and America.

The silent propagation and germination of religious ideas in lands far
away from their original habitat, their sudden appearance in a new spot
like an outbreak of contagion, are always mysterious and fascinating
subjects of research.  Some chance talk with a disciple plants the seed,
or some stray book comes to the hand of a baffled seeker at the moment
when his soul is in a suggestible state, and lo! a new vision is created
and a new apostle of the movement is prepared, often so inwardly and
mysteriously that to himself he seems to be "an apostle not of men nor by
man."  One of the earliest Dutch exponents and interpreters of this type
of spiritual religion which we have been studying as a by-product of the
Reformation in Germany, and one who became an apostle of it because at a
critical period of his life the seeds of it had fallen into his awakened
mind, was Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert.[2]

He was born in Amsterdam in 1522.  He perfected himself as expert in
copper-plate engraving and etching, and intended to pursue a quiet career
in his adopted city of Haarlem, but he found himself disturbed with
"intimations clear of wider scope."  A keen desire to go back to the
original sources of religious truth and to read the New Testament and the
Fathers in their own tongue induced him to learn Greek and Latin after he
was thirty years of age.  He possessed excellent gifts and natural
abilities of mind, and he soon had an enviable reputation for skill and
learning.  Like Sebastian Franck, whom he resembled in many points, he
was profoundly interested in history and in the stages of man's
historical development, and, like the former, he undertook the
translation of great masterpieces which expressed the ideas that
peculiarly suited his own temper of mind, such as Boethius' _Consolation
of Philosophy_; Cicero, _On Duties_; and Erasmus' _Paraphrases of the New
Testament_.  He was throughout {106} his life deeply influenced by
Erasmus, and his writings show everywhere a very strong humanistic
colouring.  It was no accident that one of his most important literary
works was on Ethics ("Sittenkunst"), for his primary interest centred in
man and in the art of living well ("Die Kunst wohl zu leben").[3]

As he developed into independent manhood, he threw himself with great
zeal into the cause of political freedom for the city of Haarlem, on
account of which he suffered a severe imprisonment in the Hague in 1560,
and at a later time was compelled to flee into temporary exile.  He
attracted the attention of William of Orange, who discovered his
abilities and made him Secretary to the States-General in 1572, prized
him highly for his character and abilities, commissioned him to write
important state papers, and intrusted very weighty affairs to him.

In his youth he had been an extensive traveller and had seen with his own
eyes the methods which the Spanish Inquisition employed to compel
uniformity of faith and, with his whole moral being revolting from these
unspiritual methods, he dedicated himself to the cause of liberty of
religious thought, and for this he wrote and spoke and wrought with a
fearlessness and bravery not often surpassed.[4]  With this passion of
his for intellectual and spiritual freedom was joined a deeply grounded
disapproval of the fundamental ideas of Calvinism, as he found it
expounded by the preachers and theologians of the Reformed Church in
Holland.  As a Humanist, he was convinced of man's freedom of will, and
he was equally convinced that however man had been marred by a _fall_
from his highest possibilities, he was still possessed of native gifts
and graces, and bore deep within himself an unlost central being, which
in all his wanderings joined him indissolubly to God.  On the great
theological {107} issues of the day he "disputed," with penetrating
insight, against the leading theologians of the Netherlands, and he
always proved to be a formidable antagonist who could not be put down or
kept refuted.  Jacobus Arminius, at the turning of his career, was
selected by the Consistory to make once for all a refutation of
Coornhert's dangerous writings.  He, however, became so impressed, as he
studied the works which he was to refute, that he shifted his own
fundamental points of belief, accepted many of Coornhert's views, and
became himself a greater "heretic" and a more dangerous opponent of
Calvinism than the man whom he was chosen to annihilate.[5]

Sometime in his religious development--it is impossible to settle
precisely when or where--he read the writings of the spiritual Reformers,
and received from them formative influences which turned him powerfully
to the cultivation of inward religion for his own soul and to the
expression and interpretation of a universal Christianity--a Christianity
of the inward Word and of an invisible Church.  The lines of similarity
between many of his views and those of Franck are so marked that no one
can doubt that he read the books and meditated upon the bold teachings of
this solitary apostle of the invisible Church.  In fact he frequently
mentions Franck by name in his writings and quotes his views.  It is
certain, too, that he admired, loved, and translated the writings of
Sebastian Castellio, the French Humanist, first an admirer and then
opponent of Calvin, pioneer defender of freedom of thought, and exponent
of inward and spiritual religion of the type of the German Spiritual
Reformers,[6] and it is unmistakable that we have, in this Dutch
self-taught scholar, a virile interpreter of this same type of
Christianity, marked with his own peculiar variation, and penetrated with
the living convictions of his personal faith and first-hand experience.
While putting emphasis on personal experience and on inward insight he
nevertheless, like Franck, was suspicious {108} and wary of mystical
"enthusiasm" and of "private openings."  He criticized the "revelations"
of David Joris and Henry Nicholas, and in place of their caprice he
endeavoured to find the way to a religion grounded in the nature of
things and of universal value.  He was deeply read in the Mystics and
constantly used their terminology, but he often gave new meaning to their
words and pursued quite a different goal from that which absorbs the true

Coornhert makes a sharp distinction between lower knowledge and higher
knowledge--knowledge proper.  Lower knowledge does not get beyond images
and copies of true reality.  It is sufficient for man's practical
guidance in the affairs of this world of space and time, but it becomes
only a "dead knowledge" when it is applied to matters of eternal moment.
The higher knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge won through direct
experience and practice of the will.  This higher knowledge is possible
for man because through Reason he partakes of the Word of God which is
Reason itself revealed and uttered, and therefore he may know God and
know of his own salvation with a certainty that far transcends the lower
knowledge which he possesses of external things, or of mere historical

This Word of God is eternal, and is the source of all spiritual light and
truth that have come to the race in all ages.  Through it the patriarchs
discovered how to live well, even in a world of sin, and through this
same Word the prophets saw the line of march for their people, and by the
power and inspiration of this Word the written word was given as a
temporary guidance, as a pedagogical help, as a lantern on men's paths,
until the morning Star, Jesus Christ, the living Word, should rise and
shine in men's hearts.  The living Word is, thus, vastly different from
the written word.  One is essence, the other only image or shadow; one is
eternal, the other is temporal; one is uncreated, the other is made; one
is the Light itself, the other is the lantern through which the {109}
Light shines; one is Life itself, the other is only the witness of this
Life--the finger which points toward it.[8]

True religion is distinguished from all false or lower forms of religion
in this, that true religion is always inward and spiritual, is directly
initiated within the soul, is independent of form and letter, is
concerned solely with the eternal and invisible, and verifies itself by
producing within man a nature like that of God as He is seen in Christ.
The "law" of true religion is a new and divinely formed disposition
toward goodness--a law written in the heart; its temple is not of stone
or wood, but is a living and spiritual temple, its worship consists
entirely of spiritual activities, _i.e._ the offering of genuine praise
from appreciative hearts, the sacrifice of the self to God, and the
partaking of divine food and drink through living communion with Christ
the Life.  Religion, of this true and saving sort, never comes through
hearsay knowledge, or along the channels of tradition, or by a head
knowledge of texts of the written word.  It comes only with inward
experience of the Word of God, and it grows and deepens as the will of
man lives by the Will of God, and as the kingdom of God comes, not in
some far-away Jerusalem, or in some remote realm above the sky, but _in a
man's own heart_.

This true and saving religion is begun, and completed, within the soul by
a process which Coornhert names by the great historic word, _faith_.
Faith is the soul's free assent to the living Word of God as, through
amazing grace, it offers itself to man in the desperate straits of his
life.  Man is so made that he perpetually seeks some desired satisfaction
and, in his restless search for this unattained good, he tries many false
and specious trails, is endlessly baffled and deceived, and finally
discovers, if he is fortunate enough to come to himself, that he is like
a shipwrecked man on a single plank with sea everywhere about him and no
haven in sight.  In this strait the Light, which he has not noted before,
breaks in on his darkness, and the way of Grace is presented to him in
{110} Christ.  He feels himself called to a strange way of finding his
desired satisfaction--no longer the way of flesh and worldly wisdom, but
the way of the cross, of suffering, and of sacrifice.  Reason,
enlightened by the Word of God, prompts him to assent; the Scriptures,
laden with promises, bear their affirmative testimony, and thus he makes
his venture of faith, takes the risk of the voluntary sacrifice of his
own pleasant desires, his preference for ways of ease and comfort, his
self-will, and makes the bold experiment of trusting the Word of God, as
it reveals itself to him, and of following Christ.  He finds that his
faith verifies itself at every step, his experiment carries him on into
an experience, his venture brings him to the reality he is seeking.
Every stage of this pragmatic faith, which in a word is _obedience to the
Light_, makes the fact and the meaning of sin clearer, at the same time
makes the knowledge of God more real and the nature of goodness more
plain, and it leads away from a superstition of fear to a religion of
love and of joy.[9]

All other religions, besides this true and inward religion of the spirit,
called by Coornhert "outer or external religions," are considered of
value only as preparatory stages toward the one true religion which
establishes the kingdom of God in man's heart.  With this fundamental
view, he quite naturally regards all external forms and ceremonies as
temporary, and he holds that all of them, even the highest of them, are
nothing else than visible signs, figures, shadows, symbols, pointing to
invisible, spiritual, eternal realities, which in their nature are far
different from the signs and symbols.  The signs and symbols can in no
way effect salvation; they can at best only suggest to the quickened soul
the true realities, to know which is salvation.  The real and availing
circumcision, as the spiritual prophets and apostles always knew, was a
circumcision of the heart, and not of the flesh, and so, too, the true
and availing baptism is a baptism into the life, death, and resurrection
of Christ, {111} and cleanses the soul of its sins and produces "a good
conscience toward God"--the old sinful man is buried and a new and
Christlike man is raised.  The same transforming effects attach to the
real communion in which the finite human spirit feeds upon its true
divine food and drink--the Life of Christ given for us.  The real Sabbath
is not a sacred day, kept in a ceremonial and legal sense, but rather an
inward quiet, a prevailing peace of soul, a rest in the life of God from
stress and strain and passion.  The Church has been pitiably torn and
mutilated by disputes over the genuine form of administering these outer
ceremonies, supposing them to be in themselves sacraments of life.  As
soon as they are recognized to be what they really are, only temporary
signs and symbols, then the main emphasis can be put where it properly
belongs, and where Christ himself always put it, on love and on the
practice of love.  No ceremony, even though instituted by Christ himself
and practised with absolute correctness, can make a bad heart good, but
love--love which suffers long and is kind--flows only from a renewed and
transformed heart which already partakes of the same nature as that which
was incarnate in Christ.  Imprisonment, isolation, exile, excommunication
may deprive one of the outward ceremonies, but neither death nor life,
nor any outward circumstance in the universe, need separate the soul from
the love of God in Christ, or deprive it of the privilege of loving![10]

Coornhert criticizes the great Reformers for having put far too weighty
emphasis on externals, and he especially criticizes Calvin for having
given undue prominence to "pure doctrine" and to the right use of
sacraments.  It is impossible, he insists, to establish authoritatively
from Scripture this so-called "pure doctrine."  In fact, many parts of
Scripture are against the doctrine of predestination, and Scripture is
always against the doctrine of perseverance in sin.  All speculations
about the Trinity, or about the dual nature of Christ, transcend our
knowledge and should be rejected.  Furthermore {112} there is no
authoritative Scripture or revelation for the new forms of the sacrament
that have been introduced by the Reformers and are being made essential
to salvation.  The true Reformation, he thinks, should be devoted to the
construction of the invisible Church, which has existed in all ages of
the world, but which is kept from realizing its full scope and power
because the attention of men is too greatly absorbed with signs and
symbols and outward things.[11]

For similar reasons he disapproved of the Anabaptists, even in their
purified form as worked out under the guidance of Menno Simons.  They
still held, as did the reformed churches, that the true Church is a
visible church which every one to be a Christian must join, though this
true Church, as they conceive it, consists only of "saints."  They claim
the authoritative right to ban all persons who, according to their
opinion, are not "saints."  This right Coornhert denies.  He further
disapproves of their literal interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount,
and of the obstacles which they put in the way of the free exercise of
prophecy on the part of the members of the community.  He insists that a
person may be a Christian and yet belong to no visible church, if
meantime he is a true member of the invisible Communion.  He himself
refrained from taking the communion supper, either with Papists,
Lutherans, or Calvinists, because he said they all set the sacrament
above the real characteristic mark of Christian membership, which is
love, and because there is no divine command, with distinct and
unambiguous authority, for the efficacious celebration of the sacrament,
which in any case could not be rightly kept so long as sectarian
hostility and lack of love prevail in the contending visible
churches.[12]  Under these circumstances, Coornhert, who was intensely
concerned for the sincere, simple-minded souls, perplexed by the maze of
varying sects and parties, refused to found a new sect or to head a new
schismatic movement.  On behalf of those who could not {113} conform, he
pleaded for freedom of conscience and for the right to live in the world
undisturbed as members of the invisible Church, using or omitting outward
ceremonies as conscience might direct, waiting meantime and seeking in
quiet faith for the coming of new and divinely commissioned apostles who
would _really reform_ the apostate Churches, unite all divided sects, and
gather in the world a true Church of Christ.[13]

Meantime, while waiting for this true apostolic Church to appear,
Coornhert approved of the formation of an _interim-Church_.  This Church,
according to his programme, would accept as truth, and as true practice,
anything plainly and clearly taught in the canonical Scripture, but he
advised against using glosses and commentaries made by men, since that is
to turn from the sun to the stars and from the spring to the cistern.
This interim-Church was to have no authoritative teachers or preachers.
In place of official ministry, the members were to edify one another in
Christian love, with the reservation that they would welcome further
illumination out of the Scriptures wherever they have made a mistake or
gone wrong.  All persons who confess God as Father, and Jesus Christ as
sent by God, and who in the power of faith abstain from sins, may belong
to this interim-Church.  For the sake of those who are still weak and
spiritually immature, he allowed the use of ceremonies in the
interim-Church, but all ceremonies are held as having no essential
function for salvation, and the believer is at liberty to make use of
them or to abstain from using them as he prefers.[14]


Coornhert's proposed interim-Church, which at best was conceived as only
a temporary substitute for the true apostolic Church, for which every
spiritual Christian is a "waiter" or "seeker," found actual embodiment in
a very interesting movement of the early seventeenth {114} century, known
in Dutch history as the "Collegiants" or "Rynsburgers," which we shall
now proceed to study.[15]  The Collegiants had their origin in one of the
stormiest of the many theological controversies which swept over the
Netherlands in this critical period of religious history, a controversy
arising over the views taught by Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).  The Dutch
Protestants who accepted his views presented a "Remonstrance" to the
States of Holland and Friesland in 1610, in which they formulated their
departure from strict, orthodox Calvinism.  The "Remonstrance" contained
five main Articles: (1) that the divine decrees of predestination are
conditioned and not absolute; (2) that the atonement is in intention
universal; (3) that a man cannot of himself do anything good without
regeneration; (4) that though the Grace of God is a necessary condition
of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; (5) that believers
are able to resist sin, but are not beyond the possibility of falling
from Grace.  The opponents to these views, often called "Gomarists,"
issued a counter-blast from which they received the name
"counter-Remonstrants."  The States-General passed an edict tolerating
both parties and forbidding further dispute, but the conflict of views
would not down.  It spread like a prairie fire, became complicated with
political issues, had its martyrdoms, and produced far-reaching results
and consequences.[16]  At the Synod of Dort, on April 24, 1619, the
Remonstrants were declared guilty of falsifying religion and of
destroying the unity of the Church, and were deposed from all their
ecclesiastical and academic offices and positions.  Two hundred were
deposed from the ministerial office for life, and one hundred were

Among the number of deposed ministers was Christian {115} Sopingius, the
pastor of Warmund, and the "Remonstrants," who formed an important part
of his congregation, were left without the opportunity of hearing any
ministry of which they approved.  In this strait Giesbert Van der Kodde,
an Elder in the Warmund church, took a bold step.  He was the son of a
prosperous farmer who had given his children, John, William, Adrian, and
Giesbert, an unusually extended education.  All the sons learned Latin,
Italian, French, and English, while William (known in the scholarly world
as Gulielmus Coddaeus) was a Hebrew and Oriental scholar of note, and at
the age of twenty-six was made Professor of Hebrew in the University of
Leyden.  They owed the course of their religious development and their
particular bent of mind to the writings of men like Sebastian Castellio;
Coornhert, whose views have been given above; and Jacobus Acontius, the
Italian humanist, who laid down the principles that no majority can make
a binding law in matters of faith, that only God's Spirit in the hearts
of men can certify what is the truth, and that "Confessions of Faith"
have been the ruinous source of endless divisions in the Church.  Deeply
imbued with the ideas of these spiritual reformers, and in sympathy as
they were with many of the views and practices of the Mennonites about
them, the Van der Kodde brothers decided, under the leadership of the
boldest and most conscientious of them, Giesbert, to come together
without any minister and hold a meeting of a free congregational type.
At first the meeting was probably held in Giesbert's house, and consisted
of readings from the Scripture, prayers, and the public utterance of
messages of edification by those who formed the group.  A little later a
"Remonstrant" preacher was sent to care for the orphaned Church in
Warmund, but Giesbert had become satisfied with the new type of meeting,
and now expressed himself emphatically against listening to preachers who
lived without working and at the expense of the community, and who
hindered the free exercise of "prophecy."  Many of the members of the
Church did not share these views, but {116} much preferred to have the
comfort of a minister, so that a "separation" occurred, and Giesbert,
with his brothers and fellow-believers, rented a house and perfected
their new type of congregational meeting.  They soon moved their meeting
(called a "Collegium," _i.e._ gathering) to the neighbouring town of
Rynsburg, where it received additions to its adherents, largely drawn
from the Mennonites, many of whose ideas were strongly impressed upon the
little "Society,"--for example, opposition to taking oaths, refusal to
fight, or even to take measures of self-defence, and rejection of the
right of magistrates and other political officers to inflict punishment.
They also adopted, as the Mennonites did, the Sermon on the Mount as the
basis of their ethical standard, which they applied with literalness and
rigour.  They insisted on simplicity of life, the denial of "worldly"
occupations or professions, plainness of garb, rejection of the world's
etiquette, absence of titles in addressing persons, and equality of men
and women, even in public ministry.  They introduced the practice of
immersion ("Dompeldoop") as a mark of initiation into the Society, but
they considered true Christian baptism to be with the Spirit and not with
water, and they allowed their members a large range of liberty in the use
or disuse of water baptism, as well as in the form of receiving it.  They
rejected the Supper as an ecclesiastical ceremony, but they highly prized
it as an occasion of fellowship and of group worship.  Every person might
share the supper with them if he confessed his faith in Christ and were
not living in unrepented sin, though they were inclined to exclude
persons occupying offices which involved the violation of the Sermon on
the Mount.  The one essential mark of fellowship was brother-love, which
was not to be confined to the narrow limits of the Society, but that
person was regarded the truest disciple of Christ who practised the
neighbour-spirit in the broadest and most effective manner.  They cared
for their own sick and poor, and they had a wide sympathy for all
oppressed and suffering people.  They pushed to the farthest limit {117}
their opposition to war and all other forms of destroying human life.

From the first there was a decided strain of "Enthusiasm" evident in the
movement, and a pronounced tendency to encourage a ministry of "prophetic
openings."  One of the original members, John Van der Kodde, declared
that he should fear the loss of his salvation if he failed in a meeting
to give utterance to the Word of God revealed to him in his inner being.
They encouraged the custom of silent waiting in their gatherings as a
preparation for "openings."  They proved from the fourteenth chapter of 1
Corinthians that free prophecy is the highest form of ministry, and they
held that God by His grace could pour out His Spirit upon men in the
seventeenth century as well as in the days of the Apostles and
Evangelists, who did their mighty work, not as Church officials, but as
recipients of gifts from God.  They felt that prayer accompanied by
_tears_ was true prayer, "moved" from above.  They, however, were persons
of scholarship and refinement, and not tumultuous or strongly emotional,
but, on the contrary, they highly valued dignity and propriety of

As the movement spread, _Collegia_, or societies, were formed in Leyden,
Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and in other localities, essentially like the
mother-society in Rynsburg, but with characteristic variations and with
particular lines of local developments.  Once every year they had a large
yearly meeting in Rynsburg, to which the scattered members came from all
parts of Holland where there were societies.  As time went on, two marked
lines of differentiation appeared in the movement, due to the trend of
the influence of important leaders, one group emphasizing especially the
_seeker-attitude_, and the other group receiving its formative influence
from Cartesian philosophy.  Daniel Van Breen, Adam Boreel, and Michael
Comans were the early leaders and pillars of the Amsterdam _Collegium_,
which was begun in 1645, and some years later the group was greatly
strengthened by the "convincement" of the young Mennonite doctor and
{118} teacher, Galenus Abrahams, who soon became the most prominent
Collegiant leader in Holland.

Adam Boreel gave the movement a strong impetus and did much toward
putting the teachings of Coornhert into practice.  He was born at
Middleburg in 1603.  He was a man of good scholarship, being especially
learned in Hebrew, and he was thoroughly impregnated with the views of
the spiritualistic Humanists of the former century, Franck, Castellio,
and Coornhert, as well as with the views of the mystics, and he was
himself a champion of individual religious freedom.  He held that the
visible Church since the apostolic age has been astray and apostate, that
Confessions of faith, Church officers, and sacraments are without
"authority," that the uncontaminated teaching of the Holy Scripture is
the only safe norm of faith, and that until a true apostolic Church is
again established in the world by divine commission, each faithful,
believing Christian should maintain meantime the worship of God in his
own way and wait in faith for a fuller revelation.[17]  His mystical
piety appears strongly in his hymns, which are preserved in his complete
works.  One of these hymns of Boreel has been very freely translated into
English "by a Lover of the Life of our Lord Jesus," probably Henry More,
the Platonist.  More says that he finds the hymn "running much upon the
mortification of our own wills and of our union and communion with God,"
and he loves it as a deep expression of his own faith that "no man can
really adhere to Christ, and unwaveringly, but by union to Him by His
Spirit."  I give a few extracts from More's free Translation:

   1.  O Heavenly Light! my spirit to Thee draw,
       With powerful touch my senses smite,
       Thine arrows of Love into me throw
         With flaming dart
         Deep wound my heart,
       And wounded seize for ever, as thy right.


   3.  Do thou my faculties all captivate
       Unto thyself with strongest tye;
       My will entirely regulate:
         Make me thy slave,
         Nought else I crave
       For this I know is perfect Liberty.

   5.    O endless good!
         Break like a flood
       Into my soul, and water my dry earth,

   6.  That by this mighty power I being reft
       Of everything that is not One,
       To Thee alone I may be left
         By a firm will
         Fixt to Thee still
       And inwardly united into one.

  11.  So that at last, I being quite released
       From this strait-laced Egoity
       My soul will vastly be increased
         Into that All
         Which One we call,
       And One in itself alone doth All imply.

  12.  Here's Rest, here's Peace, here's Joy and Holy Love,
       The heaven is here of true Content,
       For those that seek the things above,
         Here's the true light
         Of Wisdom bright
       And Prudence pure with no self-seeking blent.

  15.  Thus shall you be united with that One,
       That One where's no Duality,
       For from that perfect Good alone
         Ever doth spring
         Each pleasant thing
       The hungry soul to feed and satisfy.[18]

Stoupe, in his _Religion of the Dutch_,[19] gives some interesting
contemporary light on this branch of Collegiants whom he calls
"Borellists," as follows: "The Borellists had their name from one
Borrell, the Ringleader of their {120} sect, a man very learned,
especially in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latine tongues.  He was brother to
Monsieur Borrell, ambassador from the States-General to his most
Christian Majesty.  These Borrellists do for the most part maintain the
opinions of the Mennonites though they come not to their assemblies.
They have made choice of a most austere kind of life, spending a
considerable part of their Estates in almsgiving and a careful discharge
of all the duties incumbent on a Christian.  They have an aversion for
all Churches, as also for the use of the Sacraments, publick prayers, and
all other external functions of God's Service.  They maintain that all
Churches which are in the world and have been since the death of the
apostles and their first subsequent successors have degenerated from the
pure doctrine which they preached to the world; for this reason, that
they have suffered the infallible Word of God contained in the Old and
New Testaments to be expounded and corrupted by Doctors who are not
infallible and would have their own confessions, their catechisms, and
their Liturgies and their sermons, which are the works of men, to pass
for what they really are not, to wit, for the pure Word of God.  They
hold also that men are not to read anything but the Word of God alone
without any additional application of men."

Abrahams (b. 1622) intensified the _seeker_ aspect of the Amsterdam
group, emphasizing the view that the existing Church, even in its best
form, is only an interim-Church with no saving sacraments and no
compelling authority.  His position is expressed in the highly important
"Nineteen Articles" which he, and his fellow-believer, David Spruyt, drew
up in 1658, and in the further Exposition _Nader Verklaringe_ of 1659.
These documents present the apostolic pattern or model as the ideal of
the visible Church for all ages.  There neither is nor can be any other
true Church.  It is essentially a Church managed, maintained, and
governed through "gifts" bestowed by the Holy Spirit, and in this Church
each spiritual member takes his part according to the measure of his
special "gift."  This pattern Church, however, {121} _fell away_ and
became corrupted after the death of the apostles, and instead of this
glorious Church an external Church was established, claiming to possess
authoritative officials, saving sacraments, and infallible doctrines, but
really lacking the inward power of the apostolic Church, no longer
following and imitating Christ, on the contrary adopting the world's way
and the world's type of authority, and destitute of the very mark and
essence of real Christianity, _the spirit of love_.  Through all the
apostasy of the visible Church, however, an invisible Church has survived
and preserved the eternal ideal.  It consists of all those, in whatever
ages and lands, who have lived by their faith in Christ, have kept
themselves pure and stainless in the midst of a sinful world, have
practised love, even when they have received the buffets of hate, have
lived above division and schism and sect, and have steadily believed that
their names were written in heaven and that their Church was visible to
God, even though none on earth called them brother, or recognized their
membership in the body of Christ.  Some time, in God's good time, that
invisible Church, which no apostasy has annulled or destroyed, will
become once again a visible Church, equipped with "gifted" teachers and
with apostolic leaders as at the first, beautiful once more as a bride
adorned for her husband, and powerful again as the irresistible sword of
the Spirit.

But the Reformers--Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and even Menno Simons--have
taken an unwarranted course toward the reform and restoration of the
Church.  It was within their right and power to _improve_ the unbearable
condition of the outward Church, by faithfully following the plain
teaching of the New Testament, and without usurping authority.  They,
however, have not been satisfied to do what lay within the narrow limits
of their commission.  They have ambitiously undertaken to set up again an
authoritative visible Church, even though they lacked the gifts of the
Spirit for it, and were without the necessary apostolic commission.  They
insisted on their form of sacraments as essential to salvation; they
{122} drew up their infallible creeds; they set up Church officials who
were to rule over other men's faith, and they assumed a certain divine
right to compel the consciences of their members.  Most of the Reformers
have even sanctioned the use of bonds and prisons to secure uniformity of
faith!  The primitive apostles claimed no such right and made use of no
such unspiritual methods.  Order is a good thing and is everywhere to be
sought, but God nowhere has conferred upon the heads of His Church the
authority to compel conscience or to force tender souls to submit to a
system which reveals in itself no inherent evidences of divine origin.

The writers of these Nineteen Articles fail to see anywhere in the world
a divinely established and spiritually endowed Church of Jesus Christ.
They are determined to live in purity and love, to avoid dissension and
strife, to guard their membership in the invisible Church, and to wait in
faith for the outpouring of the Spirit and the bestowal of miraculous
gifts for the restoration of the Church in its pristine apostolic purity
and power.  We have thus, here in Holland, an almost exact parallel to
the "Seekers" who were very numerous in England in the middle decades of
the seventeenth century.

We get a very interesting side-light on Galenus Abrahams in the _Journal_
of George Fox.  William Penn and George Keith held a "discussion" with
this famous Collegiant leader in 1677, at which time the latter "asserted
that nobody nowadays could be accepted as a messenger of God unless he
confirmed his doctrine by miracle,"[20] and Fox says that Abrahams was
"much confounded and truth gained ground."[21]  Fox himself was not
present at the "discussion," but he had a personal interview with
Abrahams at about the same time as the "discussion."  The interview was
not very satisfactory.  Fox says that he found this "notable teacher"
"very high and shy, so that he would not let me touch him nor look upon
him, but he bid me keep my eyes off him, for {123} he said they pierced
him!"[22]  But at a later visit, in 1684, Fox found the Collegiant
doctor, now venerable with years, "very loving and tender."  "He
confessed in some measure to truth," Fox says, "and we parted very
lovingly."  At a meeting, held in Amsterdam a few weeks later, Abrahams
was among the large group of attenders, and "was very attentive to the
testimony of the truth," and, when the meeting was over, Fox says, "he
came and got me by the hand very lovingly,"[23] and seemed no longer
afraid of the Quaker's "piercing eyes."  In spirit they were very near
together, and with a little more insight on both sides the two movements
might have joined in one single stream.  For many years afterwards the
common people, not given to nice distinctions, called the annual
gathering of the Collegiants at Rynsburg "the meeting of the Quakers."[24]

The other tendency in the movement, which received its fullest expression
in the group of Collegiants at Rynsburg and their friends in Amsterdam,
had a still greater parallelism with Quakerism, in fact, the most
important book which came from a member of this group--_The Light on the
Candlestick_--is indistinguishable in its body of ideas from Quaker
teaching, and differs only in one point, that it reveals a more
philosophically trained mind in the writer than does any early Quaker
book with the single exception of Barclay's _Apology_.  The author of
_The Light on the Candlestick_--written originally in Dutch and published
in 1662 under the title _Lucerna super candelabro_--was probably Peter
Balling, though the book, with characteristic Collegiant modesty, was
published anonymously.  Peter Balling was one of an interesting group of
scholarly Collegiants who became very intimate friends of Baruch Spinoza,
and who received from the Jewish philosopher a strong impulse toward
mystical religion.  Before they became acquainted with the young Spinoza,
however, they had already received through Descartes a powerful
intellectual awakening, {124} and had discovered that consciousness
itself, when fully sounded, has its own unescapable evidence of God.  It
is not possible here to turn aside and study adequately this
extraordinary philosophical movement known as Cartesianism, beginning in
Descartes (1596-1650) and culminating in Spinoza (1632-1677), but the
distinct religious influence of it is so profoundly apparent, both in
Peter Balling and in the Quaker apologist Robert Barclay (1648-1690),
that a very brief review of the contribution from this source seems

René Descartes, like almost every other supreme genius who has discovered
a new way and has forever shifted the line of march for the race, passed
through a momentous inward upheaval, amounting to a conversion
experience, and emerged into a new moral and intellectual world.[25]  It
was on November 10, 1619, in the midst of a great campaign during the
opening stages of the Thirty Years' War, in which at this time the young
Frenchman was a soldier on the Roman Catholic side, that Descartes,
sitting alone all day in a heated room of some German house, resolved to
have done with outworn systems of thought and with tradition, and
determined to make the search for truth the object of his life.[26]  The
new scientific method, which was the fruit of his reflections and
experiments, and which has since been carried into every field of human
research, does not now concern us.  The feature of his philosophy which
impressed these serious seekers after God was his fresh discovery of what
is involved in the nature of self-consciousness.  Beginning with the bold
resolution to accept nothing untested, to doubt everything in the
universe that can be doubted, and to receive as truth only that which
successfully resists every attempt to doubt it, he found one absolutely
solid point with which to start, in the self-existence of
self-consciousness--"At least I who am doubting am thinking, and to think
is to exist." {125} Pushing his search deeper down to see what is further
involved in the constitution of this self-consciousness, he discovered a
consciousness of God--the idea of an infinitely perfect Being--within
himself, and this consciousness of God seemed to him to be the underlying
condition of every kind of knowledge whatever.  It turns out to be
impossible, he believes, to think of the "finite" without contrasting it,
in implication at least, with the "infinite" which is therefore in
consciousness, just as it is impossible to talk of "spaces" without
presupposing the one space of which given "spaces" are parts.  That we
are oppressed with our own littleness, that we "look before and after and
sigh for what is not," that we are conscious of finiteness, means that we
partake in some way of an infinite which reveals itself in us by an
inherent necessity of self-consciousness.  There are, then, some ideas
within us--at least there is this one idea of an infinitely perfect
reality--_implanted_ in the very structure of our thinking self, which
could have come from no other source but from God, who is that infinitely
perfect Reality.  Other things may still be doubtful, and a tinge of
uncertainty may rest upon everything external to the mind that perceives
them, but _the soul and God are sure_, and, of these two certainties, God
is as sure as the soul itself, because an idea of Him is native to the
soul as a necessary part of its "furnishings," and is the condition of
thinking anything at all.[27]

Spinoza, though bringing to his philosophy elements which are foreign to
Descartes, and though fusing his otherwise mathematical and logical
system with the warmth and fervour of mystical experience that is wholly
lacking in the French philosopher, carried Cartesianism to its logical
culmination, and has given the world one of the most impressive
presentations that ever has been given of the view that all things centre
in God and are involved in His existence, that it belongs to the very
nature of the {126} human mind to know God, and that all peace and
felicity come from "the love of an infinite and eternal object which
feeds the soul with changeless and unmingled joy."  He, too, had his
conversion-awakening which took him above the love of earthly things, and
through it he found an unvarying centre for his heart's devotion, which
made his life, outwardly extremely humble, inwardly one of the noblest
and most saintly in the history of philosophy.  "After experience had
taught me," he writes in the opening of his early _Treatise on the
Improvement of the Understanding_, "that all things which are ordinarily
encountered in common life are vain and futile~.~.~.  I at length
determined to inquire if there were anything which was a TRUE GOOD,
capable of imparting itself, and by which alone the mind could be
affected to the exclusion of all else; whether, indeed, anything existed
by the discovery and acquisition of which I might have continuous and
supreme joy to all eternity," and the remainder of his life was
penetrated by a noble passion for the Eternal, and dedicated to the
interpretation of the Highest Good which he had discovered, and which
henceforth no rival good was ever to eclipse.  Dr. A. Wolf well says of
him: "His moral ardour seems almost aglow with mystic fire, and if we may
not call him a priest of the most high God, yet he was certainly a
prophet of the power which makes for righteousness."[28]  He is giving
his own experience in the spiritual principle which he laid down early in
his life: "So long as we have not such a clear idea of God as shall unite
us with Him in such a way that it will not let us love anything beside
Him, we cannot truly say that we are united with God, so as to depend
immediately on Him."[29]

It is Spinoza's primary principle that the only Reality in the universe
is an all-inclusive Reality which is the origin, source, and explanation
of all that is.  All human experience, either of an inward or outward
world, if it is to have any meaning and reality at all, involves the
{127} existence of this inclusive Whole of Reality, that is of God.  It
belongs, thus, fundamentally to the nature of human consciousness to know
God, for if we did not know Him we should not know anything else.  The
moment a "finite thing" or a "finite idea" is severed from the Whole in
which it has its ground and meaning, it becomes _nothing_; it is "real"
only so long as it is a part of a larger Reality, and so every attempt to
understand a "flower in a crannied wall," or any other object in the
universe, drives us higher up until we come at last to that which is the
_prius_ of all being and knowledge, the explanation of all that is.

But this ultimate Reality up to which all our experience carries us--if
we take the pains to think out what is involved in the experience--is no
mere sum of "finites," no bare aggregation of "parts," no heaped-up
totality of separate "units."  It is an Absolute Unity which binds all
that is into one living, organic Whole, a Divine Nature,--_natura
naturans_ Spinoza calls it,--and which lives and is manifested in all the
finite "parts," in so far as they are real at all.  And as soon as the
mind finds itself in living unity with the eternal Nature of things, and
views all things from their centre in God, and sees how all objects and
events flow from the eternal Being of God, it is "led as by the hand to
its highest blessedness."[30]  The complications of Spinoza's system, and
the difficulty of finding a "way down" from the Absolute Unity of God to
the differentiation of the modes of a world--_natura naturata_--here, in
space and time, do not now concern us.

The point of contact between Spinoza and the spiritual movement which we
are studying is found in his central principles that God is the _prius_
of all finite reality, that to know things or to know one's own mind
truly is to know God, and that a man who has formed a pure love for the
eternal is above the variations of temporal fortune, is not disturbed in
spirit by changes in the object of his love, but loves with a love which
eternally feeds the soul with joy.


During the most important period of his intellectual and spiritual
development, Spinoza spent three years (1660-1663) in the quiet village
of Rynsburg, living in close and intimate contact with his Collegiant
friends.  It was here during these happiest years of his life, in this
quiet retreat and surrounded with spiritually-minded men with whom he had
much in common, that he wrote his _Short Treatise on God, Man and His
Well-Being_, as well as his _Treatise on the Improvement of the
Understanding_, which opens with his account of the birth of his own
spiritual passion.  These intellectual and high-minded Collegiants had
their influence upon the philosopher, and he in turn had a deep influence
upon them.  Peter Balling translated into Dutch in 1664 Spinoza's version
of Descartes' _Principia_, and Balling turned to his friend Spinoza for
consolation in his great loss occasioned by the death of his child that
same year,[31] while the philosopher at his death left all his
unpublished manuscripts to another life-long intimate Collegiant friend
of his, John Rieuwertsz.

_The Light on the Candlestick_, to which we shall now turn for the ripest
ideas of the little sect, was written while Spinoza was living among the
Collegiants in Rynsburg.  It was very quickly discovered by the Quakers,
who immediately recognized it as "bone of their bone," and circulated it
as a Quaker Tract.  It was translated into English in 1663 by B. F.,[32]
who published it with this curious title-page: "The Light upon the
Candlestick.  Serving for Observation of the Principal things in the Book
called, _The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, &c.  Against several
Professors, Treated of, and written by Will Ames_.  Printed in Low Dutch
for the Author, 1662, and translated into English by B. F."

The Collegiant author, quite in the spirit and style of Spinoza, urges
the importance of discovering a central love for "things which are
durable and incorruptible," "knowing thereby better things than those to
which the {129} multitude are link't so fast with love."  We have
outgrown the "toyes with which we played as children," there is now "no
desire or moving thereunto, because we have found better things for our
minds"; so, too, "all those things in which men, even to old age, so much
delight" would seem like "toyes" if they once discovered the true Light
"which abides forever unchangeable," and if through it they got a sight
of "those things which are alone worthy to be known."  This "true and
lasting change," from "toyes" to "the things which are durable and
eternal," can come only through an inward conversion.  When a new vision
begins from within, then the outward action follows of itself, but no man
will part with what he judges best till he sees something better, and
then the weaker yields to the stronger without any forcing.[33]  This
whole work of conversion, of transformation, of "lasting change," must
have its origin in something within ourselves.  We cannot turn from
baubles and "toyes" and our "desire for that which is high in the world"
until a Light from some source plainly shows us an eternal reality for
which we may "highly adventure the tryal."  There is, our author insists,
only one place where such a guiding Light could arise, and that is within
the soul itself, as an inward and immediate knowledge: "'Tis not far to
seek.  We direct thee to within thyself.  Thou oughtest to turn into, to
mind and have regard unto, that which is within thee, to wit, the Light
of Truth, the true Light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into
the world.  Here 'tis that thou must be and not without thee.  Here thou
shalt find a Principle certain and infallible, through which increasing
and going on into, thou mayest at length arrive unto a happy condition.
Of this thou mayest highly adventure the tryal.  And if thou happenest to
be one of those that would know all things before thou dost begin~.~.~.
know this, Thou dost therein just as those that would learn to read
without knowing the Letters.  He that will not adventure till he be fully
satisfied, shall never begin, much less finish {130} his own salvation.
We say then, that we exhort every one to turn unto the Light that's in

In true Cartesian fashion, he demonstrates why this Light must have its
locus within the soul and not in some external means or medium.  All
knowledge that God is being revealed in external signs, or through
external means, already presupposes a prior knowledge of God.  We can
judge no doctrine, no Book to be Divine except by some inward and
immediate knowledge of what really is Divine.  Without this Light the
Scriptures are only Words and Letters.  But "if we experience that the
Book called the Bible in regard to the Divine doctrine therein comprised
hath such a harmony with That [in us] by which God is known, that He must
needs have been the Author of it, there cannot rationally be any more
powerful demonstration."[35]

The same principle is true with regard to every conceivable form of
revelation which could be made to our outward senses, whether by words,
or by miracles, or by any other visible "operations."  No finite thing
can bring us a knowledge of God unless we already have within us a
sufficient knowledge of Him to make us able to appreciate and judge the
Divine character of the particular revelation; that is to say, we must
already have God in order either to seek Him or to find Him; or, as
Balling puts it, "Unless the knowledge of God precedes, no man can
discern Him."  God is, therefore, the prius of all knowledge: "The
knowledge of God must first be, before there can be knowledge of any
particular things,"[36] and God must be assumed as present in the soul
before any basis of truth or of religion can be found.  "The Light is the
first Principle of Religion; for, seeing there can be no true Religion
without the knowledge of God, and no knowledge of God without this Light,
Religion must necessarily have this Light for its first Principle."[37]
"Without thyself, O Man," he concludes, "thou hast no {131} means to look
for, by which thou mayest know God.  Thou must abide within thyself; to
the Light that is in thee thou must turn thee; there thou wilt find it
and nowhere else.  God is nearest unto thee and to every man.  He that
goes forth of himself to any creature, thereby to know God, departs from
God.  God is nearer unto every man than himself, because He penetrates
the most inward and intimate parts of man and is the Life of the inmost
spirit.  Mind, therefore, the Light that is in thee."[38]

This Light--the first Principle of all Religion--is also called in this
little Book by many other names.  It is "the living Word," "the Truth of
God," "the Light of Truth"; it is "Christ"; it is the "Spirit."[39]  As a
Divine Light, it reproves man of sin, shows him that he has strayed from
God, accuses him of the evil he commits.  It leads man into Truth, "even
though he has never heard or read of Scripture"; it shows him the way to
God; it gives him peace of conscience in well-doing; and, if followed and
obeyed, it brings him into union with God, "wherein all happiness and
salvation doth consist."[40]  It operates in all men, though in many men
there are serious "impediments" which hinder its operations--"the lets to
it are manifold"--but as soon as a man turns to it and cleanses his inner
eye--removes the "lets"--he discovers "a firm foundation upon which he
may build stable and enduring things: A Principle whereby he may, without
ever erring, guide the whole course of his life, how he is to carry
himself toward God, his Neighbour and himself."[41]  The writer, having
thus delivered his message, wishes to have it distinctly understood that
he is not trying to draw his readers to any new sect, or to any outward
and visible church.  "Go to, then, O Man," he says, "whoever thou art, we
will not draw thee off from one heap of men to carry thee over unto
another, 'tis somewhat else we invite thee to!  We invite thee to
Something which may be a means to attain thy own {132} salvation and
well-being membership in the invisible Church."

Such is the teaching of this strange little book, written by the friend
of Spinoza, and revealing the maturest expression of this slowly
developing spiritual movement, which began with Hans Denck and flowed
uninterruptedly through many lives and along many channels and burst out
full flood in England in "the Children of the Light," who were known to
the world as Quakers.

[1] Three important books on this subject are C. B. Hylkema,
_Réformateurs_ (Haarlem, 1902); Dr. Heinrich Heppe, _Geschichte des
Pietismus und der Mystik in der reformirten Kirche, namentlich der
Niederlande_ (Leiden, 1879); and Wilhelm Goeters, _Die Vorbereitung des
Pietismus in der reformierten Kirche der Niederlande_ (Leipzig, 1911).

[2] The biographical details of his life are given in a Preface to the
three-volume edition of his collected works, published in Amsterdam in

[3] The title of this work is _Zedekunst, dat is, Wellevens Kunst,
vermits waarheydts kennisse vanden Mensche, vande Zonden ende vande
Deughden.  Nu aldereerst beschreven in't Neerlandtsch_.  Coornhert's
_Wercken_ (1631), i. fol. 268-3353.

[4]  Two of his powerful pleas for the freedom of the mind are, _Epitome
processus de occidendis haereticis et vi conscientiis inferenda_ (Gouda,
1591), and _Defensio processus de non occidendis haereticis_ (Hannover,

[5] Gottfried Arnold, _Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historien_, ii. p. 378, sec. 3.

[6] See Chap. VI.

[7] _Zedekunst_, chaps. i. and ii.

[8] _Zedekunst_, chaps. iv. and v.

[9] Wercken, iii. fol. 413-427.  See also "Hert-Spiegel godlycker
Schrifturen," _Wercken_, i. fol. 1-44.

[10] _Wercken_, iii. fol. 413-427.

[11] See Arnold, _op. cit._ ii. p. 380, sec. 8.

[12] His views in this particular are very similar to those of

[13] Arnold, _op. cit_. pp. 381-382.

[14] _Wercken_, i. fol. 554 ff.

[15] The best history of the Collegiants is J. C. Van Sloe's _De
Rijnsburger Collegianten_ (Haarlem, 1895).

[16] One of the most tragic consequences of the controversy was the
martyrdom of John of Barneveldt, the political head of the Remonstrants.
Hugo Grotius was thrown into prison, but escaped through the bold
ingenuity of his wife.

[17] Adam Boreel's teaching is set forth in his treatise, _Ad. legem et
testimonium_ (Amsterdam, 1643).  Information upon his life and teaching
is given in Arnold, _op. cit._ ii. 386-387; in Hylkema, _Reformateurs_;
and in Walter Schneider, _Adam Boreel_ (Giessen, 1911).

[18] Henry More's _Annotations upon the Discourse of Truth_ (London,
1682), pp. 271-276.

[19] Stoupe, _La Réligion des Hollandois_ (Paris, 1673), translated into
English under the title _The Religion of the Dutch_ (London, 1680).  The
extract is from p. 82 of the French edition and pp. 26-28 of the English

[20] Sewel, _History of the People called Quakers_ (Phila. edition,
1823), ii. p. 368.

[21] _Journal_, (ed. 1901), ii. p. 310.

[22] _Journal_, ii. p. 401.

[23] _Ibid._ ii. pp. 401-402.

[24] Simeon Friderich Rues, _Mennoniten und Collegianten_ (Jena, 1743),
p. 244.

[25] See E. S. Haldane, _Descartes, His Life and Times_ (1905), pp. 51-53.

[26] The autobiographical account of this experience is given in the
opening of part ii. of the _Discourse on Method_.

[27] Descartes' famous argument is found in Meditations III. and IV. of
his _Meditations on First Philosophy_, first published in 1641.  For an
illuminating interpretation of the entire movement, see Edward Caird's
Essay on Cartesianism in _Essays on Literature and Philosophy_ (1892),
ii. pp. 267-383.

[28] Spinoza, _Short Treatise on God, Man, and his Well-Being_, Wolf's
edition (London, 1910), p. 102.

[29] _Ibid._ p. 40.

[30] _Ethics_, part ii.  Preface.

[31] See Spinoza's _Correspondence_, Letter No. XXX.

[32] Benjamin Furley, a Quaker merchant of Colchester, then living in

[33] _The Light upon the Candlestick_, p. 8, freely rendered.

[34] _The Light upon the Candlestick_, pp. 3-4.

[35] _Op. cit._ p. 10.  He uses also the Cartesian argument that there
must at least be as much reality in the cause as there is in the effect,
p. 12.

[36] _Op. cit._  p. 12.

[37] _Ibid._ p. 6.

[38] _The Light upon the Candlestick_, pp. 12-13.

[39] _Ibid._ pp. 4 and 9.

[40] _Ibid._ p. 5.

[41] _Ibid._ p. 6.




It is a central idea of mysticism that there is a way to God through
the human soul.  The gate to Heaven is thus kept, not by St. Peter or
by any other saint of the calendar; it is kept by each individual
person himself as he opens or closes within himself the spiritual
circuit of connection with God.  The door into the Eternal swings
within the circle of our own inner life, and all things are ours if we
learn how to use the key that opens, for "to open" and "to find God"
are one and the same thing.  The emphasis in "Nature Mysticism" lies
not so much on this direct pathway to God through the soul as upon the
symbolic character of the world of Nature as a visible revelation of an
invisible Universe, and upon the idea that man is a microcosm, a little
world, reproducing in epitome, point for point, though in miniature,
the great world, or macrocosm.  On this line of thought, _everything is
double_.  The things that are seen are parables of other things which
are not seen.  They are like printed words which _mean_ something
vastly more and deeper than what the eye sees as it scans mere letters.
One indwelling Life, one animating Soul, lives in and moves through the
whole mighty frame of things and expresses its Life through visible
things in manifold ways, as the invisible human soul expresses itself
through the visible body.  Everything is thus, in a fragmentary way, a
focus of revelation for the Divine Spirit, whose garment is this vast
web of the visible world.  But man in a very special way, as a complete
microcosm, is a concentrated extract, a {134} comprehensive
quintessence of the whole cosmos, visible and invisible--an image of
God and a mirror of the Universe.

These views have a very ancient history and unite many strands of
historic thought.  They came to light in the sixteenth century with the
revival through Greek literature of Stoic, Neo-Platonic, and
Neo-Pythagorean ideas.  But the Greek stream of thought as it now
reappeared was fused with streams of thought from many other
sources--medieval mysticism, Persian astrology, Arabian philosophy, and
the Jewish Cabala, which, in turn, was a fusing of many elements--and
the mixture was honestly believed to be genuine, revived Christianity,
and Christ, as the new Adam, is throughout the central Figure of these

Marsilius Ficino, the Italian Humanist, who translated Plato and the
writings of the Neo-Platonists into Latin and so made them current for
the readers of the sixteenth century, gave a profoundly mystical
colouring to the revived classical philosophy and identified it with
pure and unadulterated Christianity.[1]  His contemporary, Pico of
Mirandola (1463-94), joined the teachings of the Cabala with his
Neo-Platonized Christianity and so produced a new blend.  Johann
Reuchlin (1455-1522), great German classical and Hebrew scholar, brave
opponent of obscurantism, forerunner of the Reformation, introduced the
Neo-Platonic and Cabalistic blend of ideas into German thought.

The Cabala, it may be said briefly, in the primary meaning of the word,
is the doctrine received by oral tradition as an important supplement
to the written Jewish Scriptures, but the Cabala as we know it is an
esoteric system which was formed under the influence of many streams of
ancient thought-systems, and which came into vogue about the thirteenth
century, though its devout adherents claimed that it had been orally
transmitted through the intervening ages from Adam in Paradise.
According to the teaching of the Cabala, the original Godhead, called
_En-Soph_, the Infinite, is in essence {135} incomprehensible and
immutable, and capable of description only in negations.  God, the
En-Soph, is above and beyond contact with anything finite, material, or
imperfect.  It would be blasphemous to suppose that God the infinitely
perfect, God the absolutely immutable One, by direct act made a world
of matter or created a realm of existence marked with evil as this
lower realm of ours is.  Instead of supposing a creative act,
therefore, the Cabala supposes a series of emanations, or overflows of
divine splendour, arranged in three groups of threes, called
_Sephiroth_, which reveal all that is revealable in God, and by means
of which invisible and visible worlds come into being.  These
_Sephiroth_, or orders of emanation, are _thoughts_ of the Wisdom of
God become objectively and permanently real, just because He thought
them; and though He is vastly, inexhaustibly more than they, yet He is
actually immanent in them and the ground of their being.  They are (1)
the intelligible world, or world of creative ideas; (2) the world of
spiritual forms, such as the hierarchies of angels, souls, and the
entire universe of immaterial beings, the world of astral substance or
of creative soul-matter; and (3) the natural world, in which the divine
plan of Wisdom, the creative ideas, and the astral soul become visibly
and concretely revealed.  Man unites all the worlds in himself, and in
his unfallen state as Adam-Cadmon combined all men in one ideal,
undifferentiated Man.  The visible world is full of hints and symbols
of the invisible, and the initiated learn to read the _signs_ of things
seen, the meanings of sacred letters, and so to discover the secrets
and mysteries of the inner world.  The Cabala is full of unrestrained
oriental imagination, of fancies run riot, and of symbolisms ridden to
death.  Its confusion of style and thought and its predilection for
magic unfortunately proved contagious, and played havoc with the
productions of those who came under its spell.  Its marvels, however,
powerfully impressed the minds of its German readers.  Through it they
believed they were privileged to share in mysteries which had been hid
from the creation of the world, and {136} they conceived the idea that
they had at last discovered a clue that would eventually lead them into
all the secrets of the universe.[2]

Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim (1487-1535) by his writings increased
the prevailing fascination for occult knowledge and pushed this
particular line of speculation into an acute stage.  He was a man of
large learning and of heroic temper, and, possessed as he was of
undoubted gifts, in a different period and in a different environment
he would, no doubt, have played a notable part in the development of
human thought.  But he became enamoured in his youth with the
adventurous quest for the discovery of Nature's stupendous secrets, and
under the spell of the Cabala, and under the influence of eager
expectations entertained in his day by men of rank and learning, that
fresh light was about to dawn upon the ancient mysteries of the world,
he took the false path of magic as the way to the conquest of the great
secret.  It was, however, not the crude, cheap magic of popular fancy,
a magic of mad and lawless caprice, to which he was devoted; it was a
magic grounded in the nature of the deeper inner world which he
believed was the Soul of the world we see and touch.  The English
translator of Agrippa's _Occult Philosophy_ in 1651 very clearly
apprehended and stated in his quaint "Preface to the Judicious Reader,"
the foundation idea of Agrippa's magic: "This is," he says, "true and
sublime Occult Philosophy--to understand the mysterious influence of
the intellectual world upon the celestial world, and of both upon the
terrestrial world, and to know how to dispose and fit ourselves so as
to be capable of receiving the _superior operations of these worlds,
whereby we may be enabled to operate wonderful things by a natural
power_."[3]  That saying precisely defines Agrippa's faith.  There are,
he thinks, {137} three worlds: (1) the Intellectual world; (2) the
Celestial, or Astral, world; and (3) the Terrestrial world; and man,
who is a microcosm embodying in himself all these worlds, may, in the
innermost ground of his being, come upon a divine knowledge which will
enable him to unlock the mysteries of all worlds and to "operate
wonderful things."  In quite other ways than Agrippa dreamed, science
has found the keys to many of these mysteries, and has learned how to
"operate wonderful things by a natural power."  His enthusiasm and
passion were right, but he had not learned the slow and patient and
laborious way.

A still greater figure in this field of occult knowledge and of nature
mysticism was the far-travelled man and medical genius, Aureolus
Theophrastus Bombast, of Hohenheim, generally known as Paracelsus.  He
was born in 1493 in the neighbourhood of Einsiedeln, not far from
Zurich, the son of a physician of repute.  He studied in the University
of Basle, and later was instructed by Trithemius, Abbot of St. Jacobs
at Wurtzburg, an adept in magic, alchemy, and astrology.  He passed a
long period--probably ten years--of his later youth in travel, studying
humanity at close range, gathering all sorts of information, forming
his theories of diseases and their cure, and learning to know Nature
"by treading her Books, through land after land, with his feet," which,
he once testified, is the only way of knowing her truly.[4]

In 1525 he settled in Basle, and, on the recommendation of
OEcolampadius was appointed professor of physic, medicine, and surgery
in 1527, but his revolutionary teaching and practice, his scorn for
traditional methods, his attacks on the ignorance and greed of
apothecaries raised a storm which he could not weather, and he secretly
left the city in 1528.  Again he became a wanderer, having
extraordinary experiences of success and defeat, treating all manner of
diseases, writing books on medicine and on the fundamental nature of
things, and finally died at Salzburg in Bavaria in 1541.

Paracelsus is a strange and baffling character.  He had {138} much of
the spirit of the new age, tangled with many of the ideas and fancies
of his time.  His aspirations were lofty, his medical skill was unique
for his day, he was in large measure liberated from tradition, and he
was dedicated, as Browning truly represents him, to his mission, but he
was still under the spell of "mystic" categories, and he still held the
faith that Nature's secrets were to be suddenly surprised by an inward
way and by an inward Light:

  Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
  From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
  There is an inmost centre in us all,
  Where truth abides in fulness; and around,
  Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
  This perfect, clear perception--which is truth,
  A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
  Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
  Rather consists in opening out a way
  Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
  Than in effecting entry for a light
  Supposed to be without.[5]

There are, again, in his Universe, as in the other occult systems,
three elemental worlds--the spiritual or intellectual world, the astral
world or universal Soul, and the terrestrial world; and all three
worlds are man's "mothers."  Man is a quintessence of all the elements,
visible and invisible.  He has a spiritual essence within him which is
an emanation of God; he has an astral-soul essence, from the Soul of
the world; and he partakes, too, of the material and earthly world.
His supreme aim in life should be to establish, or rather re-establish,
a harmony between his own little world and the great Universe, so that
all the worlds have their right proportions in him, and so that through
his highest essence he can win the secrets of the lower worlds--the
astral and the material.  To accomplish _that_ is to be spiritual, to
become like Adam, {139} a paradisaical Man, or like Christ the new
Adam.  Even the lowest world is penetrated with the spiritual "seed" or
"element."  The very basic substances of which it is composed--sulphur,
mercury, and salt--are in essence spiritual principles, elemental
forces, rather than crude matter, and the lower world is written over,
like a palimpsest, with "signatures" of the divine world to which it
belongs.  All doors into all the worlds of God open to faith and
prayer, and he who subordinates lower elements in himself to higher has
power and potency in all realms.

But far more important for the development of spiritual religion, and
far more important as a living link between Reformers like Denck,
Schwenckfeld, and Franck of the sixteenth century, and Jacob Boehme and
the spiritual interpreters of the English Commonwealth, was Valentine
Weigel, Pastor of Zschopau.  Like so many of the men who figure in
these chapters, he is little known, seldom read, not a quick and
powerful name in the world, but he is worth knowing, and he was the
bearer of a burning and kindling torch of truth.  He was born at
Naundorf, a suburb of Grossenhain, District of Meissen, in 1533.  He
received the Bachelor's and Master's degree of the University of
Leipzig, and he pursued his studies still further in the University of
Wittenberg, his study-period having continued until 1567.  In the
autumn of that year he was ordained and called to be Pastor of
Zschopau, where he passed as a minister his entire public life, which
came to a peaceful end in 1588.  He was an ideal pastor and true
shepherd of his flock--loving them and being beloved by them.  His
ministry was fresh and vital, and made his hearers _feel_ the presence
and the power of the Spirit of God.

There was, so far as I can discover the facts, only one blemish on his
really beautiful character.  He lacked that robust, unswerving
conscience which compels a man who sees a new vision of the truth to
proclaim it, to champion it, and to suffer and even die for it when it
comes into collision with views which his own soul has outgrown.  {140}
Weigel was resolved not to have his heart's deepest faith, his mind's
most certain truth, known, at least during his lifetime, by the persons
who were the guardians of orthodoxy.  He signed the "Confessions" of
his time as though they expressed his own convictions; he counted it a
duty of the first importance to guard his pastoral flock from the
distractions and assaults of heresy-hunters, and he left his matured
and deeply meditated views for posterity to discover.  How far he was
personally timid cannot now be determined.  It would seem, however,
from his own words,[6] that he was especially concerned for the safety
and welfare of his own flock, who would suffer if he were cried down as
an enthusiast or a spiritual prophet.  But even so, it is very doubtful
if any man can rightly permit anything on earth to take precedence to
his own loyalty to the vision of truth which his soul sees.  As a
result, however, of the course he took, he died in good odour of
sanctity, and the epigones of that day had no suspicion of the ideas
that were swarming in the mind of the quiet Pastor of Zschopau, or of
the mass of manuscripts proclaiming his faith in the inner Word which
he was leaving behind him, to fly over the world like the loose leaves
of the Sibyl.

His writings were not printed until 1609 and onwards, and as his
disciples went on producing writings, somewhat in the style and spirit
of the master who inspired them, the list of books in Weigel's name is
considerably larger than the actual number of manuscripts extant at his
death in 1588.  It is not always easy to distinguish the
pseudo-writings from the genuine ones, but there is a vividness and
pregnancy of style, a spiritual depth and power in the earlier writings
which are lacking in the later group, and there is an emphasis on the
magical and occult in the secondary writings that is largely absent in
the primary ones.[7]  The most important of his books will be referred
to and quoted from as I present his type of religion and his message,
but I shall draw especially upon his little {141} book, _Von dem Leben
Christi, das ist, vom wahren Glauben_ ("On the Life of Christ, or True
Faith"), as it is the one of Weigel's writings which, in English
translation, most deeply influenced kindred spirits in the English

His spiritual conception of Christianity was formed and fed by the
sermons of Tauler, and by that little book which was "the hidden Manna"
for all the spiritual leaders of these two centuries--the _German
Theology_.  Weigel edited it with an introduction.  He calls it "a
precious little book," "a noble book"; but he tells his readers that
they can understand it and find it fruitful only if they read it "with
a pure eye" and with "the key of David," _i.e._ with a personal
experience.  But while he loved the golden book of mysticism and the
sermons of the great Strasbourg preacher, and was led by the hand of
these guides, he drew also from many other sources and finally arrived
at a type of religion, still interior and personal, but less negative
and abstract than that of the fourteenth-century mystics, and more
penetrated and informed with the presence of the Christ of the Gospels.
He insists always that in the last analysis it is Christ in us that
saves us, but it was Christ in the flesh, the Christ of Galilee and
Golgotha, that revealed to men the way to apprehend the inward and
eternal Christ of God.  "The indwelling Christ," he wrote, "is all in
all.  He saves thee.  He is thy peace and thy comfort.  The outward
Christ, the Christ in the flesh, and according to the flesh, cannot
save thee in an external way.  He must be in thee and thou must abide
in Him.  Why then did He become man and suffer on the Cross?  There are
many reasons why, but it was especially that God by the death and
suffering of Christ might take the wrath and hostility out of _our_
hearts, on account of which we falsely conceive of God as a wrathful
enemy to us.  He had to deal that way with poor blind men like us and
so reconcile us with Himself.  {142} There was no need of it on His
part.  He was always Love and He always loved us, even when we were
enemies to Him, but we should never have known it if God had not
condescended to show Himself to us in His Son and had not suffered for

Weigel everywhere maintains Christ's double identity--an identity with
God, so that in Christ we see God; and an equal identity with man, so
that Christ is man revealed in his fulfilled possibilities.  In Him God
and man are _one_.  In this deep-lying and fundamental idea of his
entire Christianity he was undoubtedly influenced, profoundly
influenced, by Schwenckfeld.  He presents in chapter i. of his _Life of
Christ_ the Schwenckfeldian view that Christ is God and Man in _one_.
But He is Man not in the crass, crude and earthly form: He is not
composed of mortal and earthly substance as our "Adamical bodies" are.
He is wholly and absolutely composed of heavenly, spiritual, divine
substance.  His flesh and blood are as divine and spiritual in origin
as is His spirit, so that His resurrection and ascension are the normal
outcome of His nature.  It was as natural for Him to rise into life and
to ascend into glory as it is for heavy things to fall.  But that
divine, spiritual, heavenly nature, which appeared in Him, is the true,
original, consummate nature of Man.  Man, as we know him, is cloudy, or
even muddy, with a vesture of decay, but that is not a feature of his
_real_ nature--either in its original or its potential form--and all
who "put on Christ," all who have "Christ in them," become one flesh
with Him and gain an indestructible and permanent inward substance like

Consistently with this view, Weigel declares that here lies the
significance of Christ's saying, "I am Bread"; "I am Meat and Drink."
The only adequate Supper of the Lord, he says, is real feeding upon His
spiritual, life-giving flesh and blood, so that Salvation is not tied
to external sacraments, but stands only in the faith that Christ feeds
us with Himself.[10]  There are, he proceeds to show, two radically
diverse natures, the traits and {143} characteristics of which he
arranges in opposing pairs, in two parallel columns as follows:

  A.  The Nature of Christ and           B.  The nature of Adam and
      of those who live in Him               those who live by him,
      and by Him.                            _i.e._ those who live the
                                             natural, earthly life.

  1.  This  Nature  turns  from          1.  This nature turns from God
      creatures to God.                      to creatures.

  2.  This Nature hates itself and       2.  This nature loves itself
      loves others.                          more than it loves God or

  3.  This Nature abhors all it          3.  This nature delights only
      itself does or omits.                  in itself and in things of

  4.  This Nature seeks to lose          4.  This nature seeks itself in
      self.                                  everything.

  5.  This Nature denies self.           5.  This nature cleaves to self.

  6.  This Nature patiently bears        6.  This nature thrusts the
      the Cross.                             Cross away.

 15.  This Nature desires to be         15.  This nature desires to be
      conformed to Christ and                equal with God without
      His Cross in all things.               any humility at all.[11]

Christ is thus for Weigel entirely a new order of Being--the Beginner
of a new race.  Adam had in himself all the possibilities which Christ
realized, but the former failed and the latter succeeded and so has
become the Head of a divine and heavenly type of humanity.  By "a new
nativity," a rebirth from above, any man in the world who wills it in
living faith may be a recipient of the divine-principle, the
Christ-Life, and may thereby be raised to membership in the Kingdom of
the Christ-Humanity, which is as far above the Adam-Humanity as the
flower is above the soil from which it first sprang.  When Christ is
formed within and the Humanity which He produces appears in the world,
then a new way of living comes into operation.  Love is the supreme
"sign" of the new type or order.  "The man who has the Christ-Life in
him does not quarrel; he does not go to law for temporall goods; he
does not kill; he lets his coat and cloke go rather than oppose
another."[12]  "If Christ were of the seed of Adam, He would have the
{144} nature and inclinations of Adam.  He would hang thieves, behead
adulterers, rack murderers with the wheel, kill hereticks, and put
corporeally to death all manner of sinners; but now He is tender, kind,
loving.  He kills no one.  The Lamb kills no woolf."[13]  Weigel goes
the whole bold way in his revolt from legalism, and he accepts the
principle of love as a structural principle of the society which Christ
is forming in the world: "Where the Life of Christ is, there is no
warre made with corporall weapons."  "The world wars but Christ doth
not so.  His warfare is spiritual."  "He that maketh warre is no
Christian but a woolf, ana belongs not to the sheepfold nor hath he
anything to expect of the Kingdom of God, nor may the warrs of the Old
Testament, of the time of darknesse serve his turne, for Christians
deal not after a Mosaicall, earthly fashion, but they walke in the Life
of Christ, without all revenge."  "We walk no longer under Moses but
under Christ."[14]

The Christian man, however, even with his new "nativity" and with his
re-created spirit of love, differs in one respect from Christ.  Christ
is wholly heavenly, His Nature is woven throughout of spiritual and
divine substance.  There is no rent nor seam in it.  Man, on the other
hand, is double, and throughout his temporal period he remains double.
By his new "nativity" man can become inwardly spirit though he remains
outwardly composed of flesh.[15]

Before the "fall" Adam was unsundered from God.  It was sin which made
the cleft or rent which separated God and man.  Through Christ, the new
and heavenly Adam, the _junction_ may be formed again in man's inner
self, and once again God and man in us may be unsundered.  The flesh is
not destroyed, but it ceases to be the dominating factor.  It serves
now merely as the "habitation" of an invisible spirit, and it exists
for the spirit, not the spirit for it.[16]  Not only is the body a
{145} "habitation" for the Christ-formed soul, but the world now
becomes to the enlightened soul an Inn for a transient guest rather
than a permanent abiding-place: "like as in an Inne there is meat set
before the guest and bedding is allowed to him, even so Christians are
in this world guests and their country is above."  "It is not fitting
for a guest that comes into an Inne, where nothing is his own, that he
should appropriate things to himself and quarrel about them!"[17]

As fast as Christ is formed within, as the Life of one's life, the
believer attains thereby a peace and a power which make the "rent"
between flesh and spirit ever less disturbing, though it still remains
until the fleshly tabernacle dissolves.  The goal of the spiritual life
here on earth is the attainment of "the silent Sabbath of the soul," in
which God becomes so completely the soul's sufficiency that the flesh
has little scope or sway any more, and there is no longer need of
furious struggle against it, "like a serpent between two rocks, trying
to pull off his old skin!"[18]  In his _Heavenly Jerusalem in Us_, he
says: "It is an attribute of God that He is the Eternal Peace which is
longed for by us men, but found by few because they do not _mind
Christ_, who is the Way.  God has not grounded either thy Peace or thy
Salvation on thy running hither and yon, nor on thy works and thy
creaturely activities, but on an inner calm and quiet, on a Sabbath of
the soul, in which thou canst hear, with the simple and the
tender-minded, what the Lord is saying and doing."[19]

In close conformity to the teaching of Sebastian Franck,[20] Weigel
thinks of the Church of God as an invisible Assembly of all true
Believers in the entire world, united, not outwardly but inwardly, in
the unity of the Spirit and by the bond of Love and Peace.  There are
for him, as for Franck and other "Spirituals," two kinds of churches:
(1) The church composed of a visible group, {146} "to be pointed out
with the finger," located in a definite country, allied with a temporal
government, held together by a body of doctrine, "tied to" certain
sacraments and possessed of force to constrain men, by "carnall
perswasions," to conform.[21]  Then there is (2) the real Church of
God, "the upper Jerusalem," a body visible in no one locality, but
dispersed over the earth like wheat in chaff, held together by no
declarations of doctrine, tied to no sacraments, dependent on no
earthly Lieutenant or Vice-gerent, and on no university-trained
Doctors, which recognizes Prince and Ploughman alike, and secures its
unity through Christ and through the invisible cement of Love.  "To
this Assembly," writes Weigel, "doe I stick; in this holy Church doe I
rejoice to be. . . .  Jesus Christ is my Head, my Teacher.  He is
everywhere with me and in me, and I in Him.  Although the Protestants
should chase me amongst Papists or Atheists, yet I should still be in
the holy Church and should have all the heavenly Gifts common to all
Believers, and although the Papists should banish me into Turkey, yet
even there should I be in the holy Church."[22]

No book appeared in England before 1648--the date of the translation of
Weigel's _Life of Christ_--which more closely approached the Quaker
position.  That religion must have an inward seat and origin; that
divine things must be learned of God, are taken as axiomatic truths
throughout this book.  If a man is to _see_, he must have eyes of his
own; if he is to teach, he must have the Word of God within him.
People say that "there can be no true Faith without outward preaching
ministry."  That is not so, Weigel declares.  The way to heaven is open
to hungry penitent souls everywhere, although, as is the case with
infants, they may hear no sermons at all: "Faith comes by inward
hearing.  Good books, outward verbal ministry have their place, they
testify to the real Treasure, they are witnesses to the inner Word
within us, but Faith is not tied to books; it is a new nativity which
{147} cannot be found in a book.  He who hath the inward Schoolmaster
loseth nothing of his Salvation although all preachers should be dead
and all books burned."[23]  Many take great pains to be baptized, and
"to hear sermons of their hired priests," and to use the Lord's Supper,
and to read theological books, who, nevertheless, show no "spiritual
profit" therefrom.  The reason is that "Truth runs into no one by a
pipe!"[24]  "In the Church of men--the man-made Church--the
measuring-line," or standard, he says, is the written Scripture,
according to one's own interpretation, or according to books, or
according to University men; but in the true Church the measuring-reed
is the inward Word, the Spirit of Christ, within the believer.  Those
who are in the Universities and Churches of men have Christ in their
mouths, and they have a measuring-reed by their side--the inhabitants
of God's Church on the other hand have the Life of Christ and the
testing-standard within themselves.[25]  Those who are "nominal
professors" hang salvation on a literal knowledge of the merit secured
by Christ's death; the true believer knows that salvation is never a
purchase, is never outwardly effected, but is a new self, a new spirit,
a new relation to God: "Man must cease to be what he is before he can
come to be another kind of person."[26]  Outward baptism and external
supper may, if one wishes, be used as symbols of the soul's supreme
events, but they cannot rightly be thought of as effecting any change
of themselves in the real nature of the man; only Christ the
Life-bringer, only the resident work of God within the soul, can
produce the transformation from old self to new self.  "Salvation is
not tyed to sacraments."[27]

It is a well-settled view of Weigel's that Heaven and Hell are
primarily in the soul of man.  He says, in _Know Thyself_, that both
the Trees of Paradise are in us; and in his _Ort der Welt_ he declares
that "the Eternal Hell of the lost will be their own Hell."[28]  And in
his _Christliches {148} Gespräch_ he insists that the holy Spirit, the
present Christ, does not need to _come down_ from Heaven to meet with
us, for when He is in our hearts there then is Heaven.[29]  No person
can ever be in Heaven until Heaven is in him.

In _Der güldene Griff_ and elsewhere Weigel works out a very
interesting theory of knowledge, which fits well with the inwardness of
his religious views.  He holds that in sense perception the percipient
brings forth his real _knowledge_ from within.  The external "object,"
or the outward stimulus, is the soliciting occasion, or suggestion, or
the sign for the experience, but what we see is determined from within
rather than from without.  All real knowledge is in the knower.  Both
external world and written scriptures are in themselves _shadows_ until
the inward spirit interprets them, and through them comes to the Word
of God which they suggest and symbolize.

Weigel plainly arrived at his ground ideas under the formative
influence of Schwenckfeld and Franck, but he also reveals, especially
in his conception of the deeper inner world and of the microcosmic
character of man, the influence of Paracelsus and of the nature mystics
of his time.  He was himself, in turn, a most important influence in
the development of the religious ideas of Jacob Boehme, and he is
historically one of the most significant men of the entire spiritual
group before the great Silesian mystic.[30]

This chapter cannot come to a proper close without some consideration
of a Weigelean book which was translated into English in 1649, under
the title, "_Astrologie Theologized_: That the Inward man by the Light
of Grace, through possession and practice of a holy life, is to be
acknowledged and live in us: which is the only means to keep the true
Sabbath in inward holinesse." {149} The anonymous translator ascribes
the book to Weigel.  It is, in fact.  Part Two of [Greek] _Gnôthi
Seauton_, but it is uncertain whether it was written by Weigel himself.
But whether written by Weigel or later by one of his school, it is a
good illustration of the way in which mystically inclined Christians of
that period endeavoured to make spiritual conquest of the prevailing
Astrology and, through its help, to discover the nature of the inner,
hidden universe.  Astrology, this little book declares, is "conversant
with the secrets of God which are hidden in the natural things of
creation."  It is the science of reading the unseen through the seen,
for, according to the teaching of this book, everything visible is an
unveiling of something invisible.  Man--who is a centre of the whole
universe, who has in himself elements of all the worlds, inner and
outer--"is created to be a visible Paradise, Garden, Tabernacle,
Mansion, House, Temple and Jerusalem of God."  All the wisdom, power,
virtue, and glory of God are hidden and are slumbering in man.  There
is nothing so near to man as God is--"He is nearer to us than we are to
ourselves"[31]--and the only reason we do not find Him and know Him and
open out our life _interiorly_, so that the true Sabbath comes to the
soul, is due to our "vagabond and unquiet ways of keeping busy with our
own will, outside our internal country."  If I could desist from the
things with which I vex and worry myself, and study to be at rest in my
God who dwells with me; if I could accustom my mind to spiritual
tranquillity and cease to wander in a maze of thoughts, cares, and
affections; if I could be at leisure from the external things and
creatures of this world, and chiefly from myself; if, in short, I might
"come into a plenary dereliction of myself," I should at once "begin to
see and know of the most present habitation of God in me and so I
should eat of the Tree of Life in the midst of the Paradise, _which
Paradise I myself am_, and be a Guest of God."[32]  Adam, who was "the
Protoplast" and begetter of all men, and who, like everything else in
the universe, was "double," {150} allowed himself to live toward the
outward instead of toward the inward, permitted the seed of the serpent
to grow in him instead of the divine seed, and so came under the
dominance of the natural, elemental world, with its "lesser light" of
knowledge and with its "tree of death."  But the Paradise, with its
greater Light of Wisdom and with its Tree of Life, is always near to
man and can be repossessed and regained by him.  The outer elements,
and the astral world with its visible stars, _rule_ no one, determine
no one.  Each man's "star" is in his own breast.  It lies in his own
power to "theologize his astrologie," to turn his universe into
spiritual forces.  By "a new nativity," initiated by obedient response
to the inward Light--the spiritual Star, not of earth and not of the
astral universe, but of God the indwelling Spirit--he may put on the
new man, created after the likeness of God, and become the recipient of
heavenly Wisdom springing up within him from the Life of the Spirit.[33]

There can be no question in the mind of any one who is familiar with
the literature and religious thought of seventeenth-century England,
that the ideas set forth in this chapter exerted a wide and profound
influence, and were a part of the psychological climate of the middle
decades of that century.  The channel here indicated was only one of
the ways through which these ideas came in.  In due time we shall
discover other channels of this spiritual message.

[1] Ficino is dealt with at greater length in Chapter XIII.

[2] The Cabala was, as I have tried to make clear, only one of the
influences which produced this new intellectual climate.  The
rediscovered "Hermes Trismegistus," the mystically coloured Platonism,
as it came from Italy, the awakened interest in Nature and in man, and
the powerful message of the German Mystics all played an important part
toward the formation of the new _Weltanschauung_.

[3] _Three Books of Occult Philosophy_, translated by J. F. (London,

[4] Stoddart's Life of Paracelsus (London, 1911), p. 76.

[5] Browning, _Paracelsus_, B. i.  This passage fairly represents
Paracelsus' general position.  "There is," he says in his
_Philosophia sagax_, "a Light in the spirit of man which illuminates
everything. . . .  The quality of each thing created by God, whether
it be visible or invisible to the senses, may be perceived and
known. If man knows the essence of things, their attributes, their
attractions, and the elements of which they consist, he will be a
Master of nature, of the elements, and of the spirits."

[6] _Christliches Gespräch_, chap. iii.

[7] There is an excellent critical study of Weigel's writings by A.
Israel, entitled, _Weigels Leben und Schriften nach den Quellen
dargestellt_ (Zschopau, 1888).

[8] "Of the Life of Christ, That is, Of True Faith which is the Rule,
Square, Levell or Measuring Line of the Holy City of God and of the
Inhabitants thereof here on Earth.  Written in the German Language by
Valentine Weigelus." (London, Giles Calvert, 1648.)

[9] Quoted from Israel, _op. cit._ p. 107.

[10] _On the Life of Christ_, part i. chap. ii.

[11] _On the Life of Christ_, part i. chap. iii.

[12] _Ibid._ part i. chap. viii.

[13] _On the Life of Christ_, part i. chap. ix.

[14] _Ibid._ part ii. chap. ix.; part i. chap. x.; part ii. chap. x.;
and part. i. chap. xiv.

[15] _Ibid._ part ii. chaps. iii. and iv.

[16] This is the view set forth in his [Greek] _Gnôthi Seauton_ [Know

[17] _On the Life of Christ_, part ii. chaps. v. and vii.

[18] _Ibid._ part i. chap. viii.

[19] _Vom himmlischen Jerusalem in uns_, chap. viii.

[20] Weigel enjoins his readers to read Franck's book on "the Tree of
the Knowledge of Good and Evil."  See _On the Life of Christ_, part ii.
p. 57.

[21] "Faith," he says, "cannot be forced into any person by gallows or
pillory."  _On the Life of Christ_, part i. chap. xv.

[22] _Ibid._ part ii. chap. xiv.  This is built on a passage in
Franck's _Apologia_.

[23] _On the Life of Christ_, part i. chaps. iv. and v.

[24] _Ibid._ part i. chap. vi.

[25] _Ibid._ part i. chaps. xii. and xiii.

[26] Quoted from Tauler by Weigel, _ibid._ chap. vii.  See also part
iii. chap. i.

[27] _Ibid._ part ii. chap. ii.

[28] _Op. cit._ chap. xx.

[29] _Christ. Gespräch_, chap. ii.

[30] In his _Der güldene Griff_, he tells of a personal spiritual
"opening" which is very similar to the one which occurred later in the
life of Boehme.  He found himself astray in "a wilderness of darkness"
and he cried to God for Light to enlighten his soul.  "_Suddenly,_" he
says, "_the Light came and my eyes were opened so that I saw more
clearly than all the teachers in all the world with all their books
could teach me._"  Chap. xxiv.

[31] _Astrologie Theologized_, p. 8.

[32] _Ibid._ pp. 16-17.

[33] This little book refers with much appreciation to Theophrastus
Paracelsus.  It uses his theory of "first matter" and his doctrine of
"the seven governours of the world," which we shall meet in a new form
in Boehme.  Another book which carried astrological ideas into
religious thought in a much cruder way was Andreas Tentzel's _De
ratione naturali arboris vitae et scientiae boni et mali_, etc., which
was Pars Secunda of his _Medicinii diastatica_ (Jena, 1629).  It was
translated into English in 1657 by N. Turner with the title: "The
Mumial Treatise of Tentzelius, being a natural account of the Tree of
Life and of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, with a mystical
interpretation of that great Secret, to wit, the Cabalistical
Concordance of the Tree of Life and Death, of Christ and Adam." Tentzel
was a famous doctor and disciple of Paracelsus and "flourished" in
Germany during the first half of the seventeenth century.




Few men have ever made greater claim to be the bearer of a new
revelation than did the humble shoemaker-prophet of Silesia, Jacob
Boehme.  "I am," he wrote in his earliest book, "only a very little
spark of God's Light, but He is now pleased in this last time to reveal
through me what has been partly concealed from the beginning of the
World,"[2] and he admonished the reader, if he would understand what is
written, to let go opinion {152} and conceit and heathenish wisdom, and
read with the Light and Power of the Holy Spirit, "for this book comes
not forth from Reason, but by the impulse of the Spirit."[3]  "I have
not dared," he wrote to a friend in 1620, "to write otherwise than was
given and indited to me.  I have continually written as the Spirit
dictated and have not given place to Reason."[4]  Again and again he
warns the reader to let his book alone unless he is ready for a new
dawning of divine Truth, for a fresh Light to break: "If thou art not a
spiritual overcomer, then let my book alone.  Do not meddle with it,
but _stick to thy old matters_!"[5]

Before the Spirit came upon him, he felt himself to be a "little
stammering child," and he always declared that without this Spirit he
could not comprehend even his own writings--"when He parteth from me, I
know nothing but the elementary and earthly things of this
world"[6]--but with this divine Spirit unfolding within him "the
profoundest depth" of mysteries, he believed, though with much
simplicity and generally with humility, that the true ground of things
had "not been so fully revealed to any man from the beginning of the
world"--"but," he adds, "seeing God will have it so, I submit to His
will."[7]  Nobody before him, he declares, no matter how learned he
was, "has had the ax by the handle," but, with a sudden change of
figure, he proclaims that now the Morning Glow is breaking and the Day
Dawn is rising.[8]  In his _Epistles_ he says: "I am only a layman, I
have not studied, yet I bring to light things which all the High
Schools and Universities have been unable to do. . . .  The language of
Nature is made known to me so that I can understand the greatest
mysteries, in my own mother-tongue.  Though I cannot say I have
_learned_ or _comprehended_ these things, yet so long as the hand of
God stayeth upon me I understand."[9]

We shall be able to estimate the value of these lofty {153} claims
after we have gathered up the substance of his teaching, but it may be
well to say at the opening of this Study of Boehme that in my opinion
no more remarkable religious message has come in modern centuries from
an untrained and undisciplined mind than that which lies scattered
through the voluminous and somewhat chaotic writings of this
seventeenth-century prophet of the common people.[19]

He frequently speaks of himself as "unlearned," and in the technical
sense of the word he was unlearned.  He had only a simple schooling,
but he possessed extraordinary native capacity and he was well and
widely read in the books which fitted the frame and temper of his mind,
and he had very unusual powers of meditation and recollection so that
he thought over and over again in his quiet hours of labour the ideas
which he seized upon in the books he read.

There are many strands of thought woven together in his writings, and
everything he dealt with is given a {154} new aspect through the vivid
insights which he always brings into play, the amazing visual power
which he displays, and his profoundly penetrating moral and
intellectual grasp.  But, nevertheless, he plainly belongs in the
direct line of these spiritual reformers whom we have been studying.
He was deeply influenced, first of all, by Luther, especially in two
directions.  He got primarily from the great reformer his transforming
insight of the immense importance of personal faith for salvation, and
secondly he was impressed--almost overwhelmingly impressed in his early
years--with the awful reality and range of the principle of positive
evil in the universe, upon which Luther had insisted with intensity of
emphasis.  His feet, however, were set upon the track which seemed to
him to lead to light by the help which he got from the other line of
reformers.  Schwenckfeld made him feel the impossibility of any scheme
of salvation that rested on transactions and operations external to the
human soul itself, and through that same noble Silesian reformer he
discovered the central significance of the new birth through a creative
work of Grace within.  Sebastian Franck was clearly one of his
spiritual masters.  From him, directly or indirectly, he learned that
the spirit must be freed from the letter, that external revelations are
symbols which remain dead and inert until they are vivified and
vitalized by the inwardly illuminated spirit.  He was still more
directly influenced by Valentine Weigel, the pastor of Zschopau, who
united the spiritual-mystical views of Schwenckfeld, Franck, and the
other teachers of his type with a nature mysticism or theosophy which
had become, as we have seen, a powerful interest in the sixteenth
century when a real science was struggling to be born, but had not yet
seen the light.  This nature mysticism came to him also in a crude and
indigestible form through the writings of Paracelsus.  Through him
Boehme acquired a vocabulary of alchemistical terms which he was always
labouring to turn to spiritual meaning, but which always baffled him.
It has been customary to treat Boehme as a mystic, and he has not {155}
usually been brought into this line of spiritual development where I am
placing him, but his entire outlook and body of ideas are different
from those of the great Roman Catholic mystics.  He has read neither
the classical nor the scholastic interpreters of mysticism.  In so far
as he knows of historical mysticism he knows it through Franck and
Weigel and others, where it is profoundly transformed and subordinated
to other aspects of religion and thought.  Unlike the great mystics, he
does not treat the visible and the finite as unreal and to be negated.
The world is a positive reality and a divine revelation.  Nor, again,
are sin and evil negative in character for him.  Evil is tremendously
real and positive, in grim conflict with the good and to be conquered
only through stern battle.  A mystic, an illuminate, he undoubtedly was
in his first-hand experience, but his message of salvation and his
interpretation of life are of the wider, distinctively "spiritual" type.

Jacob Boehme[11] was born in November 1575 in the little market-town of
Alt Seidenberg, a few miles from Görlitz.  His father's name was Jacob
and his mother's Ursula, both persons of good old German peasant stock,
possessed of a strong strain of simple piety.  The family religion was
Lutheran, and Jacob the son was brought up both at home and at church
in the Lutheran faith as it had shaped itself into definite form at the
end of the sixteenth century.  His early education was very limited,
but he was possessed of unusual fundamental capacity and always
exhibited a native mental power of very high order.  He was always a
keen observer; he looked through things, and whether he was in the
fields, where much of his early life was spent as a watcher of cattle,
or reading the Bible, which he knew as few persons have known it, he
saw everything with a vivid and quickened imagination.  He plainly
began, while still very young, to revolt from the orthodox theology of
his time, and his {156} years of reading and of silent meditation and
reflection were the actual preparation for what seemed finally to come
to him like a sudden revelation or, to use his own common figure, as "a

His external appearance has been quaintly portrayed by his admiring
friend and biographer, Abraham von Franckenberg, who, like a good
portrait-painter, strives to let the body reveal the soul.  "The
external form of Jacob's body," he says, "was worn and very plain; his
stature was small, his forehead low, his temples broad and prominent,
his nose somewhat crooked, his eyes grey and rather of an azure-cast,
lighting up like the windows of Solomon's Temple; his beard was short
and thin; his voice was feeble, yet his conversation was mild and
pleasant.  He was gentle in manner, modest in his words, humble in
conduct, patient in suffering and meek of heart.  His spirit was highly
illuminated of God beyond anything Nature could produce."[13]

This youth, with "azure-grey eyes that lighted up like the windows of
Solomon's Temple," was from his childhood possessed of a most acutely
sensitive and suggestible psychical disposition.  He always felt that
the real world was deeper than the one which he saw with his senses,
and he was frequently swept from within by mighty currents which he
could not trace to any well-mapped region of the domain of Nature.  His
vivid and pictorial imagination, his consciousness of inrushes from the
unplumbed deeps within, and his inclination to solitude and meditation
are well in evidence at an early age, and we have no difficulty at all
in seeing that his psychological equilibrium was unstable, and that he
was capable of sudden shifts of inward level.

The first sign of his psychical peculiarity comes to light in an
incident of his early childhood.  While he was tending cattle in the
fields one day he climbed alone a neighbouring {157} mountain-peak, and
on the summit he espied among the great red sandstones a kind of
aperture overgrown with bushes.  Boy-like he entered the opening, and
there within, in a strange vault, he descried a large portable vessel
full of money.  The sight of it made him shudder, and, without touching
the treasure, he made his way out to the world again.  To his surprise
he was never able to find the aperture again, though, in company with
the other less imaginative cowboys, he often hunted for it.  His
friend, von Franckenberg, who relates the story and says that he had it
from Boehme's mouth, thinks that the experience was "a sort of
emblematic omen or presage of his future spiritual admission to the
sight of the hidden treasury of the wisdom and mysteries of God and
Nature,"[14] but we are more interested in it as a revelation of the
extraordinary psychical nature of the boy, with his tendency to

When he was in his fourteenth year he was apprenticed to a shoemaker in
Seidenberg, and devoted himself diligently to the mastery of his trade.
It was during this period of apprenticeship, which lasted three years,
that there was granted to him "a kind of secret tinder and glimmer" of
coming fame.  One day a stranger, plain and mean in dress, but
otherwise of good presence, came to the shop and asked to buy a pair of
shoes.  As the master shoemaker was absent, the uninitiated
prentice-boy did not feel competent to sell the shoes, but the buyer
would not be put off.  Thereupon young Jacob set an enormous price upon
them, hoping to stave off the trade.  The man, however, without any
demur paid the price, took the shoes, and went out.  Just outside the
door the stranger stopped, and in a serious tone called out, "Jacob,
come hither to me!"  The man, with shining eyes looking him full in the
face, took his hand and said, "Jacob, thou art little but thou shalt
become great--a man very different from the common cast, so that thou
shalt be a wonder to the world.  Be a good lad; fear God and reverence
His Word."  With a little more counsel, the {158} stranger pressed his
hand and went his way, leaving the boy amazed.[15]

He had, his intimate biographer tells us, lived from his very youth up
in the fear of God, in all humility and simplicity, and had taken
peculiar pleasure in hearing sermons, but from the opening of his
apprenticeship he began to revolt from the endless controversies and
"scholastic wranglings about religion," and he withdrew into himself,
fervently and incessantly praying and seeking and knocking, until one
day "he was translated into the holy Sabbath and glorious Day of Rest
to the soul," and, according to his own words, was "enwrapt with the
Divine Light for the space of seven days and stood possessed of the
highest beatific wisdom of God, in the ecstatic joy of the
Kingdom."[16]  Boehme looked upon this "Sabbatic" experience as his
spiritual call, and from this time on he increased his endeavours to
live a pure life of godliness and virtue, refusing to listen to
frivolous talk, reproving his fellows and even his shopmaster when they
indulged in light and wanton conversation, until finally the master
discharged him with the remark that he did not care to keep "a
house-prophet" any longer.[17]  Hereupon he went forth as a travelling
cobbler, spending some years in his wanderings, discovering more and
more, as he passed from place to place, how religion was being lost in
the Babel of theological wrangling, and seeing, with those penetrating
eyes of his, deeper into the meaning of life and the world.  Near the
end of the century--probably about 1599--he gave up his wanderings,
married Catherine Kunchman, "a young woman of virtuous disposition,"
and opened a shoemaker's shop for himself in the town of Görlitz, where
he soon established a reputation for honest, faithful work, and where
he modestly prospered and was able to buy a home of his own, and where
he reared the four sons and two daughters who came to the happy home.


The supreme experience of his life--and one of the most remarkable
instances of "illumination" in the large literature of mystical
experiences--occurred when Boehme was twenty-five years of age, some
time in the year 1600.  His eye fell by chance upon the surface of a
polished pewter dish which reflected the bright sunlight, when suddenly
he felt himself environed and penetrated by the Light of God, and
admitted into the innermost ground and centre of the universe.  His
experience, instead of waning as he came back to normal consciousness,
on the contrary deepened.  He went to the public green in Görlitz, near
his house, and there it seemed to him that he could see into the very
heart and secret of Nature, and that he could behold the innermost
properties of things.[18]  In his own account of his experience, Boehme
plainly indicates that he had been going through a long and earnest
travail of soul as a Seeker,[19] "striving to find the heart of Jesus
Christ and to be freed and delivered from everything that turned him
away from Christ."  At last, he says, he resolved to "put his life to
the utmost hazard" rather than miss his life-quest, when suddenly the
"gate was opened."  He continues his account as follows: "In one
quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years
together in a University. . . .  I saw and knew the Being of Beings,
the Byss and Abyss, the eternal generation of the Trinity, the origin
and descent of this world, and of all creatures through Divine Wisdom.
I knew and saw in myself all the three worlds--(1) the Divine,
Angelical, or Paradisaical World; (2) the dark world, the origin of
fire; and (3) the external, visible world as an outbreathing or
expression of the internal and spiritual worlds.  I saw, too, the
essential nature of evil and of good, and how the {160} pregnant
Mother--the eternal genetrix--brought them forth."[20]

He has also vividly told his experience in the _Aurora_: "While I was
in affliction and trouble, I elevated my spirit, and earnestly raised
it up unto God, as with a great stress and onset, lifting up my whole
heart and mind and will and resolution to wrestle with the love and
mercy of God and not to give over unless He blessed me--then the Spirit
did break through.  When in my resolved zeal I made such an assault,
storm, and onset upon God, as if I had more reserves of virtue and
power ready, with a resolution to hazard my life upon it, suddenly my
spirit did break through the Gate, not without the assistance of the
Holy Spirit, and I reached to the innermost Birth of the Deity and
there I was embraced with love as a bridegroom embraces his bride.  My
triumphing can be compared to nothing but the experience in which life
is generated in the midst of death or like the resurrection from the
dead.  In this Light my spirit suddenly saw through all, and in all
created things, even in herbs and grass, I knew God--who He is, how He
is, and what His will is--and suddenly in that Light my will was set
upon by a mighty impulse to describe the being of God."[21]

This experience was the momentous watershed of his life.  He is
constantly referring to it either directly or indirectly.  "I teach,
write, and speak," is his frequent testimony, "of what has been wrought
in me.  I have not scraped my teaching together out of histories and so
made _opinions_.  I have by God's grace obtained eyes of my own."[22]
"There come moments," he writes, "when the soul sees God as in a flash
of lightning,"[23] and he tells his readers that "when the Gate is
opened" to them, they also "will understand."[24]  "In my own
faculties," he writes again, "I am as blind a man as {161} ever was,
but in the Spirit of God my spirit sees through all."[25]

During the ten quiet years which followed "the opening of the Gate" to
him, Boehme meditated on what he had seen, and, though he does not say
so, he almost certainly read much in the works of "the great masters,"
as he calls them, who were trying to tell, often in confused language,
the central secret of the universe.  Instead of fading out, his "flash"
of insight grew steadily clearer to him as he read and pondered, and
little by little, as one comes to see in the dark, certain great ideas
became defined.  With his third "flash,"[26] which came to him in 1610,
when he felt once more "overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and touched by
God,"[27] he was moved to write down for his own use what he had seen.
"It was," he says, "powerfully borne in upon my mind to write down
these things for a memorial, however difficult they might be of
apprehension to my outer self [intellect] and of expression through my
pen.  I felt compelled to begin at once, like a child going to school,
to work upon this very great Mystery.  Inwardly [in spirit] I saw it
all well enough, as in a great depth; for I looked through as into a
chaos where all things lie [undifferentiated] but the unravelling
thereof seemed impossible.  From time to time an opening took place
within me, _as of a growth_.[28]  I kept this to myself for twelve
years [1600-12], being full of it and I experienced a vehement impulse
before I could bring it out into expression; but at last it overwhelmed
me like a cloud-burst which hits whatever it lights upon.  And so it
went with me: whatsoever I could grasp sufficiently to bring it out,
that I wrote down."[29]

This first book which thus grew out of his spiritual travails and
"openings" Boehme called _Morning Glow_, to which later, through the
suggestion of a friend, he gave {162} the title _Aurora_.  It is a
strange _mélange_ of chaos where all things lie undifferentiated and of
insight; dreary wastes of words that elude comprehension, with
beautiful patches of spiritual oasis.  He himself always felt that the
book was dictated to him, and that he only passively held the pen which
wrote it.  "Art," he says, speaking of his writing, "has not written
here, neither was there any time to consider how to set it down
punctually, according to the understanding of the letters, but all was
ordered according to the direction of the Spirit, which often went in
haste, so that in many words letters may be wanting, and in some places
a capital letter for a word; so that _the Penman's hand_, by reason
that he was not accustomed to it, did often shake.  And though I could
have wrote in a more accurate, fair, and plain manner, yet the reason
was this, that the burning fire often forced forward with speed, and
the hand and pen must hasten directly after it; for it goes and comes
like a sudden shower."[30]  This is obviously an inside account of the
production of inspirational script, amounting almost to automatic
impulsion.  Throughout his voluminous writings he often speaks of "this
hand," or "this pen" as though they were owned and moved by a will far
deeper than his own individual consciousness,[31] and his writings
themselves frequently bear the marks of automatisms.

His manuscript copy of _Morning Glow_ was freely lent to readers and
circulated widely.  Boehme himself kept no copy by him, but he tells us
that during its wanderings the manuscript was copied out in full four
times by strangers and brought to him.[32]  One of the copies fell into
the hands of Gregorius Richter, pastor primarius of Görlitz, a violent
guardian of orthodoxy and a man extremely jealous of any infringement
of the dignity of his official position.  He proceeded at
once--"without sufficient examination or knowledge"--to {163} "vilify
and condemn" the writing, and in a sermon on "False Prophets" he
vigorously attacked the local prophet of Görlitz, who meekly sat in
Church and listened to the "fulminations" against him.[33]  After the
sermon, Boehme modestly asked the preacher to show him what was wrong
with his teaching, but the only answer he received was that if he did
not instantly leave the town the pastor would have him arrested; and
the following day Richter had Boehme summoned before the magistrates,
and succeeded by his influence and authority in overawing them so that
they ordered the harmless prophet to leave the town forthwith without
any time given him to see his family or to close up his affairs.
Boehme quietly replied, "Yes, dear Sirs, it shall be done; since it
cannot be otherwise I am content."  The next day, however, the
magistrates of Görlitz held a meeting and recalled the banished prophet
and offered him the privilege of remaining in his home and occupation
on condition that he would cease from writing on theological matters.
On this latter point we have Boehme's own testimony, though he does not
refer the condition to the magistrates.  "When I appeared before him"
[Pastor Richter], Boehme says, "to defend myself and indicate my
standpoint, the Rev. Primarius [Richter] exacted from me a promise to
give up writing and to this I assented, since I did not then see
clearly the divine way, nor did I understand what God would later do
with me. . . .  By his order I gave up for many years [1613-18] all
writing or speaking about my knowledge of divine things, hoping vainly
that the evil reports would at last come to an end, instead of which
they only grew worse and more malignant."[34]

Boehme's friend, Doctor Cornelius Weissner, in his account, which is
none too accurate, endeavours to find an explanation of Richter's
persistent hate and persecution {164} of the shoemaker-prophet in a
gentle reproof which the latter administered to the former for having
meanly treated a poor kinsman of Boehme in a small commercial
transaction, but it is by no means necessary to bring up incidents of
this sort to discover an adequate ground for Richter's fury.  The
_Aurora_ itself furnishes plenty of passages which would, if read,
throw a jealous guardian of orthodoxy into fierce activity.  One
passage in which Boehme boldly attacks the popular doctrine of
predestination and asserts that the writers and scribes who teach it
are "masterbuilders of Lies" will be sufficient illustration of the
theological provocation: "This present world doth dare to say that God
hath decreed or concluded it so in His predestinate purpose and counsel
that some men should be saved and some should be damned, as if hell and
malice and evil had been from eternity and that it was in God's
predestinate purpose that men should be and must be therein.  Such
persons pull and hale the Scriptures to prove it, though, indeed, they
neither have the knowledge of the true God nor the understanding of
Scripture.  These justifiers and disputers assist the Devil steadfastly
and pervert God's truth and change it into lies."[35]  He closed his
book with these daring words: "Should Peter or Paul seem to have
written otherwise, then look to the essence, look to the heart [_i.e._
to interior meaning].  If you lay hold of the heart of God you have
ground enough."[36]  His entire conception of salvation was, too, as we
shall see, vastly different from the prevailing orthodox conception,
and furthermore he was only a layman, innocent of the schools, and yet
he was claiming to speak as an almost infallible instrument of a fresh
revelation of God.  Theologians of the type of the Primarius Richter
need no other provocation to account for their relentless pursuit of
local prophets that appear in the domain of their authority.

Meantime Boehme's fame was slowly spreading, and he was drawing into
sympathetic fellowship with himself a number of high-minded and serious
men who were {165} dissatisfied with the current orthodox teaching.  In
this group of friends who found comfort in the fresh message of Boehme
were Dr. Balthazar Walther, director of the Chemical Laboratory of
Dresden, Dr. Tobias Kober, physician at Görlitz, a disciple of
Paracelsus, Abraham von Franckenberg, who calls Jacob "our God-taught
man," Doctor Cornelius Weissner, who became intimate with him in 1618,
and the nobleman Carl von Endern, who copied out the entire manuscript
of the _Aurora_.  These friends frequently encouraged Boehme to break
his enforced silence, and he himself was restless and melancholy,
feeling that he was "entrusted with a talent which he ought to put to
usury and not return to God singly and without improvement, like the
lazy servant."  "It was with me," he writes, describing his years of
silence, "as when a seed is hidden in the earth.  It grows up in storm
and rough weather, against all reason.  In winter time, all is dead,
and reason says: 'It is all over with it.'  But the precious seed
within me sprouted and grew green, oblivious of all storms, and amid
disgrace and ridicule it has blossomed forth into a lily!"[37]

Under the pressure, from without and from within, he resolved after
five years of repression to break the seal of silence and give the
world his message.  Writing to a dear friend, whom he called "a plant
of God," he says: "My very dear brother in the life of God, you are
more acceptable to me in that it was you who awaked me out of my sleep,
that I might go on to bring forth fruit in the life of God--and I want
you to know that after I was awakened _a strong smell was given to me
in the life of God_."[38]  During the next six years (1618-24) he wrote
almost incessantly, producing, from 1620 on, book after book in rapid
succession.[39]  In 1622, he informs a friend that he {166} has "laid
aside his trade to serve God and his brothers,"[40] and in 1623, he
says that he has written without ceasing during the autumn and winter.
He felt throughout his life that the "illumination," which broke upon
him in the year 1600, steadily increased with the years, and he came to
look upon his first book as only the crude attempt of a child as
compared with his later works.  "The Day," he writes in 1620, "has now
overtaken the _Aurora_ [the morning glow]; it has grown full daylight
and the morning is extinguished."[41]  He says, with artlessness, that
when he wrote the _Aurora_, he was not yet accustomed to the Spirit.
The heavenly joy, indeed, met him and he followed the Spirit's
guidance, but much of his own wild and untamed nature still remained to
mar his work.  Each successive book marks a growth of "the spiritual
lily" in him, he thinks: "Each book from the first is ten times

Once again, the zeal of a friend brought Boehme into the storm-centre
of persecution.  Until 1623, his works circulated only in manuscript
and were kept from the eye of his ecclesiastical enemy, but toward the
end of that year, an admirer, Sigismund von Schweinitz, printed three
of his little books--_True Repentance_; _True Resignation_; and _The
Supersensual Life_--in one volume under the title _The Way to Christ_.
Richter was immediately aroused and poured forth his feelings in some
desperately bad verses:

  Quot continentur lineae, blasphemiae
  Tot continentur in libro sutorio,
  Qui nil nisi picem redolet sutoriam,


  Atrum et colorem, quern vocant sutorium.
  Pfuy! pfuy! teter sit fetor a nobis procul![43]

But the Primarius was not content with this harmless weapon of
ridicule.  He stirred up the neighbouring clergymen to join him in the
attack, and a complaint was lodged in Town Council against Boehme as a
"rabid enthusiast," and he was warned to leave the town.  Boehme was as
sweet and gentle in spirit now as he had been ten years before.  He
wrote in 1624: "I pray for those who have reviled and condemned me.
They curse me and I bless.  I am standing the test ["Proba"] and have
the mark of Christ on my forehead."[44]  But he thought that it did not
befit him as an instrument of God's revelation to let the false charges
against him go unanswered.  He accordingly replied to the accusations
in an _Apology_, in which the whole depth and beauty of his spiritual
nature breathes forth.  His appeal was in vain and he was forced to
leave Görlitz.  He went forth, however, in no discouraged mood.  He saw
that his message was "being sounded through Europe," and he predicts
that "the nations will take up what his own native town is casting
away.  Already, he hears, his book has been read with interest in the
Court of the Elector of Saxony, and he writes, March 15, 1624: "I am
invited there to a conference with high people and I have consented to
go at the end of the Leipzig fair.  Soon the revelation of Jesus Christ
shall break forth and destroy the works of the Devil."[45]  The real
trouble with the world, he thinks, is that the Christians in it are
titular and verbal,"--they are only "opinion-peddlers,"[46] and that is
why a man who insists upon a reproduction of the life of Christ is
persecuted.  The visit to the Elector's Court in Dresden came off well
for the simple shoemaker.  He spent two months in the home of the court
physician, Dr. Hinkelmann, where many of the nobility and clergy came
to see {168} him and to talk with him.  Three professors of theology
and other learned doctors were asked by the Elector to examine him.
They reported that they did not yet quite succeed in understanding him,
and that therefore they could not pronounce judgment.  They hoped "His
Highness would please to have patience and allow the man sufficient
time to expound his ideas"--which were, in fact, already "expounded" in
more than a score of volumes!  One of the professors is reported to
have said: "I would not for the world be a party to this man's
condemnation," and another declared: "Nor would I, for who knows what
lies at the bottom of it all!"[47]

The end of the good man's life, however, was near.  He was taken ill in
November 1624, while staying with his old friend, von Schweinitz, and
he hurried home to Görlitz, where his family had remained during his
absence, to die in the quiet of his own house.  The night before he
died, he spoke of hearing beautiful music, and asked to have the door
opened that he might hear it better.  In the morning--as the _Aurora_
appeared--he bade farewell to his wife and children, committed his soul
to the crucified Lord Jesus Christ, arranged a few simple matters, and,
with a smile on his face, said, "Now I go to Paradise."

His old enemy, Richter, had died a few months before him, but the new
pastor was of the same temper and refused to preach his funeral sermon.
The second pastor of the city was finally ordered by the Governor of
Lausitz to preach the sermon, which he began with the words, "I had
rather have walked a hundred and twenty miles than preach this
sermon!"[48]  The common people, however,--the shoemakers, tanners and
a "great concourse of us his fast friends," as one of them
writes,--were at the funeral, and a band of young shoemakers carried
his body to its last resting-place, where a block of porphyry now
informs the visitor that "Jacob Boehme, _philosophus Teutonicus_"
sleeps beneath.

Grützmacher holds that Boehme is an "isolated thinker," having little,
if any, historical connection with {169} the past.[49]  I do not agree
with this view.  I find in him rather the ripe fulfilment of the
powerful protest against the dead letter, against a formal religion,
and equally a fulfilment of a Christianity of inward life, which was
voiced so vigorously in the writings of Denck, Bünderlin, Entfelder,
Franck, and Weigel, neglecting for the moment another side of Boehme
and another set of influences which appeared in him.  The central note
of his life-long prophet-cry was against a form of religion built upon
the letter of Scripture and consisting of external ceremonies and
practices, and this is the ground of Richter's bitter hostility and
stubborn opposition.[50]

The Church of his day seems to him a veritable Babel--"full of pride
and wrangling, and jangling, and snarling about the letter of the
written Word," lacking in true, real, effectual knowledge and power; a
pitiably poor "substitute for the Temple of the holy Spirit where God's
living Word is taught."[51]  Through each of his books we hear of
"verbal Christendom"; of "titular Christians"; of "historical feigned
faith"; of "history religion"; of "an external forgiveness of sins"; of
"the work of outward letters."  "The builders of Babel," he says,
"cannot endure that one should teach that Christ Himself must be the
teacher in the human heart"--"they jangle instead about the mere husk,
about the written word and letter while they miss the living Word."[52]

The divisions of Christendom are due to the fact that its
"master-builders" are of the Babel-type.  They always follow the line
of _opinion_; their basis is "the letter"; their method of approach is
_external_.  They build "stone houses in which they read the writings
which the Apostles left behind them," while they themselves dispute and
contend about "mental idols and {170} opinions."[53]  The true Church
of Christ, on the contrary, is the living Temple of the Spirit.  It is
built up of men made wholly new by the inward power of the Divine
Spirit and made _one_ by an inward unity of heart and life with
Christ--as "a living Twig of our Life-Tree Jesus Christ."  Nobody can
belong to this Church unless "he puts on the shirt of a little child,"
dies to selfishness and hypocrisy, rises again in a new will and
obedience, and forms his life in its inmost ground according to Christ,
the Life.[54]  "The wise world," he declares, "will not believe in the
true inward work of Christ in the heart; it will have only an external
washing away of sins in Grace," but the ABC of true religion is far
different.[55]  He only is a Christian in fact in whom Christ dwelleth,
liveth and hath His being, in whom Christ hath arisen as the eternal
ground of the soul.  He only is a Christian who has this high title in
himself, and has entered with mind and soul into that Eternal Word
which has manifested itself as the life of our humanity.[56]  He wrote
near the end of his life to Balthazar Tilken: "If I had no other book
except the book which I myself am, I should have books enough.  The
entire Bible lies in me if I have Christ's Spirit in me.  What do I
need of more books?  Shall I quarrel over what is outside me before I
have learned what is within me?"[57]  "What would it profit me if I
were continually quoting the Bible and knew the whole book by heart but
did not know the Spirit that inspired the holy men who wrote that book,
nor the source from which they received their knowledge?  How can I
expect to understand them in truth, if I have not the same Spirit they

This insistence on personal, first-hand experience and practice of the
Christ-Life, as the ground of true religion, {171} is the fundamental
feature of Boehme's Christianity.  He travels, as we shall see, through
immense heights and deeps.  Like Dante, who immeasurably surpasses him
in power of expression, but not in prophetic power of vision, he saw
the eternal realities of heaven and hell and the world between, and he
told as well as he could what he _saw_, but his practical message which
runs like a thread through all his writings is always simple--almost
childlike in its simplicity--"Thou must thyself be the way.  The
spiritual understanding must be born in thee."[59]  "A Christian is a
new creature in the ground of the heart."[60]  "The Kingdom of God is
not from without, but it is a new man, who lives in love, in patience,
in hope, in faith and in the Cross of Jesus Christ."[61]

And this simple shoemaker of Görlitz, with his amazing range of thought
and depth of experience, practised and embodied the way of life which
he recommended.  He was a good man, and his life touches us even now
with a kind of awe.  "Life," he once said, "is a strange bath of thorns
and thistles,"[62] and he himself experienced that "bath," but he went
through the world hearing everywhere a divine music and "having a joy
in his heart which made his whole being tremble and his soul triumph as
if it were in God."[63]

[1] I have used as primary source the German edition of Boehme's
Works--_Theosophia revelata_--published in 1730 in 8 vols.  All my
references are to the English translations made by Sparrow, Ellistone,
and Blunden, 1647-61.  These translations were republished, 1764, in 4
vols. in an edition which has incorrectly been called William Law's
edition.  Four volumes have been republished by John M. Watkins of
London, as follows: _The Threefold Life of Man_, 1909; _The Three
Principles_, 1910; _The Forty Questions_ and _The Clavis_, 1911; and
_The Way to Christ_, 1911.  The _Signatura rerum_, in English, has been
published in "Everyman's Library."  A valuable volume of selections
from "Jacob Behmen's Theosophic Philosophy" was made by Edward Taylor,
London, 1691.  Many volumes of selections have been published in recent
years.  The books on Boehme which I have found most suggestive and
helpful are the following: Franz von Baader's "Vorlesungen und
Erläuterungen über J. Böhme's Lehre," _Werke_ (Leipzig, 1852), vol.
iii. [edition of 1855, vol. xiii.]; Émile Boutroux, _Le Philosophe
allemand_ (Paris, 1888): translated into English by Rothwell in
Boutroux's _Historical Studies in Philosophy_ (London, 1912), pp.
169-233; Hans Lassen Martensen's _Jacob Boehme_ (translated from the
Danish by T. Rhys Evans, London, 1885); Franz Hartmann's _Life and
Doctrine of Jacob Boehme_ (London, 1891); Von Harless' _Jacob Boehme
und die Alchymisten_ (Leipzig, 1882); Ederheimer's _Jakob Boehme und
die Romantiker_ (Heidelberg, 1901); Paul Deussen's _Jacob Boehme_--an
Address delivered at Kiel, May 8, 1897--translated from the German by
Mrs. D. S. Hehner and printed as Introduction to Watkin's edition of
_The Three Principles_ (1910); Christopher Walton's _Notes and
Materials for a Biography of William Law_ (London, 1854)--a volume of
great value to the student of Boehme; Rudolph Steiner's _Mystics of the
Renaissance_ (translated, London, 1911), pp. 223-245; A. J. Penny's
_Studies in Jacob Boehme_ (London, 1912), uncritical and written from
the theosophical point of view; Hegel's _History of philosophy_
(translated by Haldane and Simson, London, 1895), iii. pp. 188-216.

[2] Aurora, John Sparrow's translation (London, 1656), ii. 79-80.

[3] _Aurora_, iii. 1-3.

[4] _Third Epistle_, 15.

[5] _Aurora_, xiii. 27.

[6] _Ibid._ viii. 19.

[7] _Ibid._ ix 90.

[8] _Ibid._ xiii. 2-4.

[9] _Third Epistle_, 22.

[10] Many thinkers of prominent rank have borne testimony to the
greatness of Boehme's genius.  I shall mention only a few of these

"I would recommend you to procure the writings of Boehme and diligently
read them.  For though I have studied philosophy and theology from my
youth . . . yet I must acknowledge that the above writings have been to
me of more service for the understanding of the Bible than all my
University learning."--"J. G. Gictell, 1698.

"Jacob Boehme, as a religious and philosophical genius, has not often
had his equal in the world's history."--"Jacob Boehme: His Life and
Philosophy."  An Address by Dr. Paul Deussen.

"Jacob Boehme est le seul, au moins dont on ait eu les écrits jusqu'à
lui, auquel Dieu ait découvert le fond de la nature, tant des choses
spirituelles, que des corporelles."--Peter Poiret, in a note at the end
of his _Théologie germanique_, 1700.

"As a chosen servant of God, Jacob Boehme must be placed among those
who have received the highest measures of light, wisdom, and knowledge
from above. . . .  All that lay in religion and nature as a mystery
unsearchable was in its deepest ground opened to this instrument of
God."--William Law, _Works_ (ed. 1893), vi. p. 205.

"To Jacob Boehme belongs the merit of having taught more profoundly
than any one else before or after him the truth that back of and behind
all that has come to appear of good and evil there is an immaterial
World which is the essence and reality of all that is."--Franz von
Baader, _Werke_ (Leipzig, 1852), iii. p. 382.

Novalis wrote in a letter to Ludwig Tieck in 1800: "Man sieht durchaus
in ihm [Jakob Böhme] den gewaltigen Frühling mit seinen quellenden,
treibenden, bildenden, und mischenden Kräften, die von innen heraus die
Welt gebären.  Ein echtes Chaos voll dunkler Begier und wunderbarem
Leben--einen wahren auseinandergehenden Mikrokosmos."--Quoted from
Edgar Ederheimer's _Jakob Boehme und die Romantiker_ (1904), p. 57.

[11] His English translators in the seventeenth century variously
spelled his name Behm, Behme, and Behmen.  This latter spelling was
adopted in the so-called Law Edition of 1764, and has thus come into
common use in England and America.

[12] Boehme refers frequently to "the writings of high masters," whom
he says he read (_Aurora_, x. 45), and he often names Schwenckfeld and
Weigel in particular.  See especially _The Second Epistle_, sec. 54-62

[13] _Memoirs of the Life, Death and Burial, and Wonderful Writings of
Jacob Behmen_, translated by Francis Okeley (1780), p. 22.

[14] _Memoirs_, p. 2.

[15] _Memoirs_, p. 6.  Von Franckenberg says that Boehme himself told
him this incident.

[16] Ibid. pp. 4-5.  The reader will have noted the long history of
this phrase, "Sabbath of the soul."

[17] _Ibid._ p. 7.

[18] _Memoirs_, p. 8.  Paracelsus taught that the inner nature of
things might be seen by one who has become an organ of the Universal
Mind.  He says: "Hidden things which cannot be perceived by the
physical senses may be found through the sidereal body, through whose
organism we may look into nature in the same way as the sun shines
through a glass.  The inner nature of everything may be known through
Magic [The Divine Magia] and the power of inner sight."--Hartmann's
_Life of Paracelsus_ (1896), p. 53.

[19] He uses this word _Seeker_ hundreds of times in his writings.

[20] _Second Epistle_, sec. 6-8.

[21] _Aurora_, xix. 10-13.  He goes on in the following sections to
describe how for twelve years this insight "grew in his soul like a
young tree before the exact understanding of it all" was arrived at.

[22] _The Fifth Epistle_, 50.

[23] _Aurora_, xi. 146.

[24] _Ibid._ xi. 6.

[25] Aurora, xxii. 47.

[26] In the _Aurora_ Boehme speaks of the Flash as an experience: "As
the lightning flash appears and disappears again in a moment, so it is
also with the soul.  In its battle the soul suddenly penetrates through
the clouds and sees God like a flash of Light."--Ibid. xi. 76.

[27] _Memoirs_, p. 8.

[28] Evidently the "flash" of the year 1610 was not the last one.  In
fact, he seems to have had frequent ecstasies.

[29] _The Second Epistle_, 9-10.

[30] _Third Epistle_, 35.

[31] See especially _Signatura rerum_, ix. 63, and _Forty Questions_,
xxvi. 2-3 and xxx. 3 and 5.

[32] _Third Epistle_, 32.  The _Memoirs_ describe how it was copied by
"a Gentleman of some rank" [Carl von Endern].

[33] _Memoirs_, p. 9.

[34] Preserved in the Diary of Bartholomew Scultetus, then Mayor of
Görlitz (Ueberfeld's edition, 1730).  This Diary does not record any
actual banishment of Boehme.  The data for our knowledge of the
persecutions of Boehme are found in a personal narrative written by his
friend Cornelius Weissner, M.D.--_Memoirs_, pp. 39-50.

[35] _Aurora_, xiii. 7-10.

[36] _Ibid._ xxxvi. 152.

[37] _Third Epistle_, 7.

[38] _Fifteenth Epistle_, 18.
 This "new smell in the life of God" often occurs in
Boehme's writings.  Compare George Fox's testimony, "The whole creation
had a new smell."  For further comparisons see pp. 221-227.

[39] The following is a complete list of his writings:

1612.  _The Aurora_.

1619.  _The Three Principles of the Divine Essence_.

1620.  _The Threefold Life of Man; Forty Questions; The Incarnation of
Jesus Christ; The Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Christ; The Tree
of Faith; Six Points; Heavenly and Earthly Mysterium; The Last Times_.

1621.  _De signatura rerum; The Four Complexions; Apology to Balthazar
Tilken_ in 2 parts; _Consideration on Esaias Stiefel's Book_.

1622.  Sec. _Apology to Stiefel; Repentance; Resignation; Regeneration_.

1623.  _Predestination and Election of God; A Short Compendium of
Repentance; The Mysterium magnum_.

1624.  _The Clavis; The Supersensual Life; Divine Contemplation;
Baptism and the Supper; A Dialogue Between the Enlightened and
Unenlightened Soul; An Apology on the Book of Repentance; 177
Theosophic Questions; An Epitome of the Mysterium magnum; The Holy
Week; An Exposition of the Threefold World_.

Undated.  _An Apology to Esaias Stiefel; The Last Judgment; Epistles_.

[40] _Thirty-first Epistle_, 10.

[41] _The Third Epistle_, 30.

[42] _Ibid._ 29.

[43] There are as many blasphemies in the shoemaker's book as there are
lines.  It smells of shoemaker's wax and filthy blacking.  May this
intolerable stench be far from us.

[44] _Thirty-fourth Epistle_, 5.

[45] _Thirty-third Epistle_.

[46] _Thirty-fourth Epistle_, 16 and 21.

[47] Weissner's Narrative, _Memoirs_, p. 49.

[48] _Ibid._ p. 58.

[49] _Wort und Geist_, p. 196 _seq._

[50] What could be a bolder criticism of the existing Church of his day
than this: "In place of the wolf [the Roman Church] there has grown up
the fox [the Lutheran Church] another anti-Christ, never a whit better
than the first.  If he should come to be old enough how he would devour
the poor people's hens!"--_The Three Principles of the Divine Essence_,
xviii. 102.

[51] _Mysterium magnum_, xxvii. 47.

[52] _Ibid._ xxviii. 49-51.

[53] _Mysterium magnum_, xxxvi. 34; xl. 98.

[54] _Ibid._ lxiii. 47-51; _Twenty-first Epistle_, 1.

[55] _Myst. mag._ xxv. 13.

[56] _The First Epistle_, 3-5.

[57] _Apology to Tilken_, ii. 298.

[58] _Ibid._ 72.  Compare George Fox's testimony: "All must come to
that Spirit, if they would know God or Christ or the Scriptures aright,
which they that gave them forth were led and taught by."--_Journal_
(ed. 1901), i. 35 and _passim_.

[59] _Sig. re._ xiv. i.

[60] _Myst. mag._ lxx. 40.

[61] _Fourth Epistle_, 27 and 32.

[62] _The Three Princ._ xxii. 2.

[63] _Aurora_, iii. 39.




"If thou wilt be a philosopher or naturalist and search into God's
being in Nature and discern how it all came to pass, then pray to God
for the Holy Spirit to enlighten thee.  In thy flesh and blood thou art
not able to apprehend it, but dost read it as if a mist were before thy
eyes.  In the Holy Spirit alone, and in the whole Nature out of which
all things were made, canst thou search into Nature."--_Aurora_, ii.

One idea underlies everything which Boehme has written, namely, that
nobody can successfully "search into visible Nature," or can say
anything true about Man or about the problem of good and evil, until he
has "apprehended _the whole Nature out of which all things were made_."
It will not do, he thinks, to make the easy assumption that in the
beginning the world was made out of nothing.  "If God made all things
out of nothing," he says, "then the visible world would be no
revelation of Him, for it would have nothing of Him in it.  He would
still be off beyond and outside, and would not be known in this world.
Persons however learned they may be, who hold such 'opinions' have
never opened the Gates of God."[1]

Behind the visible universe and in it there is an invisible universe;
behind the material universe and in it there is an immaterial universe;
behind the temporal universe and in it there is an eternal universe,
and the first business of the philosopher or naturalist, as Boehme
conceives it, is to discover the essential Nature of this invisible,
immaterial, eternal universe out of which this fragment of a visible
world has come forth.


            Need have we,
  Sore need, of stars that set not in mid storm,
  Lights that outlast the lightnings.[2]

The visible fragment is never self-explanatory; all attempts to account
for what occurs in it drive the serious observer deeper for his answer,
and with a breathless boldness this meditative shoemaker of Görlitz
undertakes to tell of the nature of this deeper World within the world.
As a boy he saw a vast treasury of wealth hidden in the inside of a
mountain, though he could never make anybody else see it.  As a man he
believed that he saw an immeasurable wealth of reality hidden within
the world of sense, and he tried, often with poor enough success, to
make others see the inside world which he found.  We must now endeavour
to grasp what it was that he saw.  There is no doubt at all that this
inside world which he discovered within and behind visible Nature,
within and behind man, is really there, nor is there any doubt in my
mind that he, Jacob Boehme, got an insight into its nature and
significance which is of real worth to the modern world, but he is
seriously hampered by the poverty of his categories, by the
difficulties of his symbolism and by his literary limitations, when he
comes to the almost insuperable task of expressing what he has seen.
He is himself perfectly conscious of his limitations.  He is constantly
amazed that God uses such "a mean instrument," he regrets again and
again that he is "so difficult to be understood," and he often wishes
that he could "impart his own soul" to his readers that they "might
grasp his meaning,"[3] for he never for a moment doubts that "by God's
grace he has eyes of his own."[4]  He lived in an unscientific age,
before our present exact terminology was coined.  He was the inheritor
of the vocabulary and symbolism of alchemy and astrology, and he was
obliged to force his spiritual insight into a language which for us has
become largely an antique rubbish heap.[5]  If he {174} had possessed
the marvellous power that Dante had to compel words to express what his
soul saw, he might have fused these artificial symbolisms with the fire
of his spirit, and given them an eternal value as the Florentine did
with the equally dry and stubborn terminology of scholasticism, but
that gift he did not have.[6]  We must not blame him too much for his
obscurities and for his large regions of rubbish and confusion, but be
thankful for the luminous patches, and try to seize the meaning and the
message where it breaks through and gets revealed.

The outward, visible, temporal world, he declares, is "a spiration, or
outbreathing, or egress" of an eternal spiritual World and this inner,
spiritual World "couches within" our visible world and is its ground
and mother, and the outward world is from husk to core a parable or
figure of the inward and eternal World.  "The whole outward visible
world, with all its being, is a 'signature' or figure of the inward,
spiritual World, and everything has a character that fits an internal
reality and process, and the internal is in the external."[7]  As he
expresses the same idea in another book: "The visible world is a
manifestation of the inward spiritual World, and it is an image or
figure of eternity, whereby eternity has made itself visible."[8]

But there is a still deeper Source of things than this inward spiritual
World, which is after all a manifested and organized World, and Boehme
begins his account with That which is before beginnings--the
unoriginated Mother of all Worlds and of All that is, visible and
invisible.  This infinite Mother of all births, this eternal Matrix, he
calls the _Ungrund_, "Abyss," or the "Great {175} Mystery,"[9] or the
"Eternal Stillness."  Here we are beyond beginnings, beyond time,
beyond "nature," and we can say nothing in the language of reason that
is true or adequate.  The eternal divine Abyss is its own origin and
explanation; it presupposes nothing but itself; there is nothing beyond
it, nothing outside it--there is, in fact, no "beyond" and
"outside"--it is "neither near nor far off."[10]  It is an absolute
Peace, an indivisible Unity, an undifferentiated One--an Abysmal Deep,
which no Name can adequately name and which can be described in no
words of time and space, of here and now.

But we must not make the common blunder of supposing that Boehme means
that _before_ God expressed Himself and unfolded Himself in the
infinite processes of revelation and creation, He existed apart, as
this undifferentiated One, this unknowable Abyss, this incomprehensible
Matrix.  There is no "before."  Creation, revelation, manifestation is
a dateless and eternal fact.  God to be a personal God must go out of
Himself and find Himself in something that mirrors Him.  He must have a
Son.  He must pour His Life and Love through a universe.  What Boehme
means, then, is that no manifestation, no created universe, no
expression, is the ultimate Reality itself.  The manifested universe
has come out of More than itself.  The Abyss is more than anything, or
all, that comes out of it, or can come out of it, and it lies with its
infinite depth beneath everything which appears, as a man's entire
life, conscious and unconscious, is in and yet lies behind every act of
will, though we can "talk about" only what is voiced or expressed.

Even within this Abysmal Depth, that underlies all that comes to being,
there is eternal process--eternal movement toward Personality and
Character: "God is the eternal Seeker and Finder of Himself."[11]  "In
the {176} Stillness an eternal Will arises, a longing desire for
manifestation, the eye of eternity turns upon itself and discovers
itself"[12]--in a word there is within the infinite Divine Deep an
eternal process of self-consciousness and personality, which Boehme
expresses in the words, "The Father eternally generates the Son."  "God
hath no beginning and there is nothing sooner than He, but His Word
hath a bottomless, unfathomable origin in Him and an eternal end: which
is not rightly called _end_, but Person, _i.e._ the Heart of the
Father, for it is generated in the eternal Centre."[13]  This inner
process toward Personality is often called by Boehme "the eternal
Virgin" who brings to birth God as Person, or sometimes "the Mirror,"
in which God sees Himself revealed as will and wisdom and goodness.

In the greatest artistic creation of the modern world--"The Sistine
Madonna"--Raphael has with almost infinite pictorial power of genius
tried to express in visible form this Birth of God.  Behind curtains
which hang suspended from nowhere and stretch across the universe,
dividing the visible from the invisible, the world of Nature from the
world of holy mystery, the infinite, immeasurable and abysmal God is
pictured as defined and personal in the face and figure of a little
Child, in which the artist suggests in symbolism the infinite depth and
joy and potency of Divinity breaking forth out of mystery into form.
It is precisely this birth of God into visibility that Boehme is
endeavouring to tell.  "The Son," however, Boehme says, "is not divided
or sundered from the Father, as two persons side by side--there are not
two Gods.  The Son is the heart of the Father--God as Person--the
outspringing Joy of the total triumphing Reality,[14] and through this
eternal movement toward self-consciousness and Personality, God becomes
Spirit, an out-going energy of purpose, a dynamic activity, bursting
forth into infinite manifestation and differentiation--a forth-breathed
or expressed Word.[15]  Through {177} this eternal process of
self-differentiation and outgoing activity, the inner spiritual
universe comes into being--as an intermediate Nature or world, between
the ineffable Abyss of God on the one hand, and our world of material,
visible things on the other hand."  "The process of the whole
creation," he says, "is nothing else but a manifestation of the deep
and unsearchable God, and yet creation is not God but rather like an
apple which springs from the power of the tree and grows upon the tree,
and yet is not the tree--even so all things have sprung forth out of
the central divine Desire."[16]

This entire manifested or out-breathed universe is, he says, the
expression of the divine desire for holy sport and play.  The Heart of
God enjoys this myriad play of created beings, all tuned as the
infinite strings of a harp for contributing to one mighty harmony, and
all together uttering and voicing the infinite variety of the divine
purpose.  Each differentiated spirit or light or property or atom of
creation has a part to play in the infinite sport or game or harmony,
"so that in God there might be a holy play through the universe as a
child plays with his mother, and that so the joy in the Heart of God
might be increased,"[17] or again, "so that each being may be a true
sounding string in God's harmonious concert."[18]

This eternal, interior World--the Mirror in which the Spirit manifests
Himself--is a double world of darkness and light, for there can be no
manifestation except through opposites.[19]  There must be yes and no.
In order to have a play there must be opposing players.  In order to
have life and reality there must be conflict and conquest.  As soon as
the forth-going Word of God is differentiated into many concrete
expressions and the fundamental Unity of the Abyss is broken up into
particular desires and wills, there is bound to be a clash of
opposites--will and contra-will, strain and tension, light and joy and
beauty, and over against them pain and sorrow and evil.  Evil must
appear as soon as there is {178} process of separation,
differentiation, variety, specialization and particularity.[20]
Darkness appears as soon as there is a contraction or narrowing into
concrete desire and will.

Both worlds--the light world and the dark world--are made by desire and
will.  Narrowing desires for individual and particular aims, which
sever a being from the total whole of divine goodness, make the kingdom
of darkness, while death to self-will and a yearning desire and will
for all that is expressed in the Heart and Light of God, in the Person
of His Son, make the kingdom of Light.  Lucifer--the awful example of
the dark World--fell because he stood in pride and despised the Birth
of the Heart of God and its gentle, universalizing love-spirit; and so
his light went out into darkness.  His climbing up into a severed will
was his fall.  The more he climbed toward the sundered aim of his own
will and turned away from the Heart of God, the greater was his fall,
for to turn away from the Heart of God is always to fall.[21]  There is
no darkness, no evil, in angel or devil or man, except the nature of
that particular being's own will and desire--both darkness and light
are born of desire.  The origin of the fall of any creature, therefore,
is not outside that creature, but within it.[22]

The evil in the world is only a possible good spoiled.  Beings created
for a holy sport and play, for an ordered harmony, as infinite
harp-strings for a celestial music, set their wilful desires upon
sundered ends, broke the intended harmony, or "temperature," as Boehme
calls it, introduced strife--the _turba magna_--and darkness, and so
spoiled the actual material out of which the kingdoms of nature are
made, for the attitude of will moulds the permanent structure of the
being.  Through the whole universe, visible and invisible, as a result,
the dark lines run, and the drama of the whole process of the universe
is the mighty issue between light and darkness, good and evil: Two
universal qualities persist from {179} beginning to end and produce two
kingdoms arrayed against each other--each within the other--one love,
the other wrath; one light, the other darkness; one heavenly, the other

Now out of this inner spiritual universe--a double universe of light
and darkness--this temporal, visible, more or less material, world has
come forth, as an outer sheath of an inner world, and, like its Mother,
it, too, is a double world of good and evil.  "There is not," as
William Law, interpreting Boehme, once said, "the smallest thing or the
smallest quality of a thing in this world, but is a quality of heaven
or hell discovered [_i.e._ revealed] under a temporal form.  Every
thing that is disagreeable to taste, to the sight, to our hearing,
smelling or feeling has its root and ground and cause in and from hell
[the dark kingdom], and is as surely in its degree the working and
manifestation of hell in this world, as the most diabolical malice and
wickedness is; the stink of weeds, of mire, of all poisonous, corrupted
things; shrieks, horrible sounds; wrathful fire, rage of tempests and
thick darkness, are all of them things that had no possibility of
existence, till the fallen angels disordered their kingdom [_i.e._
until the inner universe was spoiled by narrow, sundered desires].
Therefore everything that is disagreeable and horrible in this life,
everything that can afflict and terrify our senses, all the kinds of
natural and moral evil, are only so much of the nature, effects and
manifestation of hell, for hell and evil are only two words for one and
the same thing. . . .  On the other hand, all that is sweet, delightful
and amiable in the world, in the serenity of air, the fineness of
seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colours,
the fragrance of smells, the splendour of precious stones, is nothing
else but heaven breaking through the veil of this world, manifesting
itself in such a degree and darting forth in such variety so much of
its own nature."[24]

I have spoken so far as though Boehme traced the {180} source of every
thing to _will and desire_, as though, in fact, the visible universe
were the manifold outer expression of some deep-lying personal will,
and in the last analysis that is true, but his more usual form of
interpretation is that of the working of great structural _tendencies_,
or _energies_, or "_qualities_," as he calls them, which are common
both to the inner and the outer universe.  There are, he declares again
and again with painful reiteration, but with little advance of
lucidity, seven of these fundamental laws or energies or qualities,
like the sevenfold colour-band of the rainbow, though they can never be
untangled or sundered or thought of as standing side by side, for
together in their unity and interprocesses they form the universe, with
its warp and woof of light and darkness.[25]

The first "quality" is a contracting, compacting tendency which runs
through the entire universe, outer and inner.  It is in its inmost
essence _desire_, the egoistic tendency, the focusing of will upon a
definite aim so that consciousness contracts from its universal and
absolute possibilities to a definite, limited, concrete _something in
particular_, and thus negates everything else.  Desire always disturbs
the "Quiet" and brings contraction, negation and darkness.  In the
outer world it appears as the property of cohesion which makes the
particles of a particular thing hold and cling together and form one
self-contained and separate thing.  It is the individualizing tendency
which permeates the universe and which may be expressed either as a
material law in the outer world, or as personal will-tendency in the
inner world.

The second "quality" is the attractive, gravitating tendency which
binds whole with whole as an organizing, universalizing energy.  This,
again, is both spiritual and physical--it has an outer and an inner
aspect.  It is a fundamental love-principle in the inner world--the
{181} foundation, as Boehme says, of sweetness and warmth and
mercy[26]--and at the same time is a structural, organizing law of
nature, which tends out of many parts to make one universe.[27]

These two diverse tendencies at work eternally in the same world
produce strain and tension and _anguish_.  The tension occasioned by
these opposite forces gives rise to the third "quality," which is a
tendency toward movement, oscillation, rotation--what Boehme often
calls _the wheel of nature_, or the wheel of motion, or the wheel of
life.[28]  This, too, is both outer and inner; a law of the physical
world and a tendency of spirit.  There is nothing in nature that is not
ceaselessly moved, and there is no life without its restlessness and
anguish, its inward strain and stress, its tension and its problem, its
dizzy wheel of life--the perpetual pursuit of a goal which ends at the
starting-point as an endless circular process.

The fourth "quality" is the _flash_, or ignition, due to collision
between nature and spirit, in which a new principle of activity breaks
through what before was mere play of _forces_, and reveals something
that has activity in itself, the kindling, burning power of fire,
though not yet fire which gives _light_.  In the outer world it is the
bursting forth of the elemental, fusing, consuming powers of Nature
which may either construct or destroy.  In the inner world it is the
birth of self-consciousness on its lower levels, the awaking of the
soul, the kindling of passion, and desire, and purpose.  Any one of
these four lower "qualities" may stay at its own level, remain in
itself, out of "temperature" or balance with the rest, and so be only a
"dark principle"; or it may go on and fulfil itself in one of the
higher "qualities" next to be described, and so become a part of the
triumphing "light principle."  Fire may be only a "fire of anguish" or
it may go up into a "fire of love"; it may be a harsh, {182}
self-tormenting fire, or it may be a soft, light-bringing, purifying
fire.  Suffering may harden the spirit, or it may be the condition of
joy.  Crucifixion may be mere torture, or it may be the way of
salvation.  It is then here at the _great divide_ between the
"qualities" that the universe reveals its differentiation into two
kingdoms--"the dark" and "the light."

The fifth "quality" is Light, springing out of the "flash" of fire and
rising to the level of illumination and the revelation of beauty.  It
is at this stage of Light that the lower force-forms and fire-forms
first stand revealed in their full meaning and come to their real
fulfilment.  On its inner or spiritual side this Light-quality is an
"amiable and blessed Love."  It is the dawn and beginning of the
triumphing spirit of freedom which wills to draw all things back to one
centre, one harmony, one unity, in which wild will and selfish passion
and isolating pride, and all that springs from the dark fire-root are
quenched, and instead the central principle of the spiritual
world--Love--comes into play.

Boehme calls his sixth "quality" voice or sound, but he means by it the
entire range of intelligent expression through tone and melody, music
and speech, everything in the world, in fact, that gives joy and beauty
through purposeful utterance.  He even widens his category of "sound"
to include colours and smells and tastes, in short, all the
sense-qualities by which the world gets revealed in its richness of
beauty and harmony to our perception.  He widens it, too, to include
deeper and subtler tones than those of our earth-born sense--the
heavenly sports and melodies and harmonies which the rightly attuned
spirit may hear with a finer organ than the ear.

The seventh, and final, "quality" is body or figure, by which he means
the fundamental tendency or energy toward expression in actuality and
concrete form.  The final goal of intelligent purpose is the
realization of wisdom, of idea, in actual Nature-forms and
life-forms--the _incarnation of the spirit_.  There is nothing real in
the {183} universe but has its form, its "signature," its figure, its
body-aspect: "There is not anything but has its soul and its body, and
each soul is as it were an inner kernel, or seed, to a visible and
comprehensible body,"[29] and, as we shall see, the supreme achievement
of the universe is the visible appearance of the Word of God, the
eternal Son, in flesh like ours--a visible realization in time of the
eternal Heart of God.  The glory of God appears in a kingdom of God, a
visible vesture of the Spirit.

All these seven qualities, or "fountain-spirits," or fundamental
tendencies, are in every part and parcel of the universe, and each
particular thing or being finds his true place in the vast drama or
play of the universe, according to which "quality" is prepotent, and
marks the thing or being with its "signature."  They constitute in
their eternal nature what Boehme calls _The Three Principles_ that
underlie all reality of every order.  The first principle is the
substratum or essence of these first three "qualities," the
nature-tendencies at the level of forces, which he generally calls the
_fire-principle_, _i.e._ the dark fire, before the "flash" has come.
The second principle is the substratum or essence of the last three
"qualities"--the tendencies toward unity, harmony, order, love, which
he calls the _light-principle_.  The third principle produces the union
or synthesis of the other two--the principle of realization in body and
form, the triumph over opposition of these two opposing principles in
the exhibition of the real, the actual, the living, the conscious,
where dark and light are both joined, but are dominated by another
irreducible principle.  To these three fundamental principles
correspond the three supreme divine aspects: Father, Son, and Holy

We are here, of course, far from a scientific account of the processes
and evolution of the universe.  Boehme {184} is no scientific genius
and he did not dream that every item and event of the world of
phenomena could be causally explained, without reference to any deeper
abysmal world of Spirit.  His mission is rather that of the prophet who
"has eyes of his own."  He is endeavouring to tell us, often no doubt
in very laborious fashion, sometimes as "one who is tunnelling through
long tracts of darkness," that this outside world which we see and
describe is a parable, a pictorial drama, suggesting, hinting,
revealing an inside world of Spirit and Will; that every slightest
fragment of the seen is big with significance as a revelation of an
unseen realm, which again is an egress from the unimaginable Splendour
of God.  He believes, like Paracelsus, that everything in
Nature--plants, metals, and stars--"can be fundamentally searched out
and comprehended" by the inward way of approach, can be read like an
open book by the children of the Spirit who have caught the secret clue
that leads in, and who have the key that unlocks the inner realm.[31]

Obviously his "inner way of approach" works more successfully when
applied to _man_ than when applied to plants and metals and stars--and
when he writes of man, whether in the first or in the third person, he
does often seem to have "eyes of his own," and to "hold the key that

It is an elemental idea with him that man is "a little world"--a
microcosm--and expresses in himself all the properties of the great
world--the macrocosm.[32]  "As you find man to be," he writes, "just so
is eternity.  Consider man in body and soul, in good and evil, in light
and darkness, in joy and sorrow, in power and weakness, in life and
death--all is in man, both heaven and earth, stars and elements.
Nothing can be named that is not man."[33]  Every man's life is
inwardly bottomless and opens from within into all the immeasurable
depth of God.  Eternity springs through time and reveals itself in
every person, for the foundation property of the soul {185} of every
man is essentially eternal, spiritual, and abysmal--it is a little drop
out of the Fountain of the Life of God, it is a little sparkle of the
Divine Splendour.[34]  God is spoken of again and again as "man's
native country," his true "origin and home"--"The soul of man is always
seeking after its native country, out of which it has wandered, seeking
to return home again to its rest in God."[25]  "The soul of man," he
says again, "has come out from the eternal Father, out from the Divine
Centre, but this soul--with this high origin and this noble
mark--stands always at the opening of two gates."[36]  Two worlds, two
mighty cosmic principles, make their appeal to his will.  Two kingdoms
wrestle in him, two natures strive for the mastery in his life, and he
makes his world, his nature, his life, his eternal destiny by his
choices: "Whatsoever thou buildest and sowest here in thy spirit, be it
words, works, or thought, that will be thy eternal house."[37]  "The
good or evil that men do, by acts of will, enters into and forms the
soul and so moulds its permanent habitation."[38]  Adam once, and every
man after him also once, has belonged, in the centre of the soul, to
God, and whether it be Adam or some far-off descendant of him, each is
the creator of his own real world, and settles for himself the
atmosphere in which he shall live and the inner "tincture" of his
abiding nature.  "Adam fell"--and any man's name can here be
substituted for "Adam"--"because, though he was a spark of God's
eternal essence, he broke himself off and sundered himself from the
universal Will--by contraction--and withdrew into self-seeking, and
centred himself in selfishness.  He broke the perfect temperature--or
harmonious balance of qualities--and turned his will toward the dark
world and the light in him grew dim."[39]  To follow the dark world is
to be Lucifer or fallen Adam, to follow the light world completely is
to be Christ[40]--and before every soul the two {186} gates stand
open.[41]  In a powerful and penetrating passage he says: "We should
take heed and beget that which is good out of ourselves.  If we make an
angel of ourselves we are that; if we make a devil of ourselves, we are

This last sentence is a good introduction to Boehme's conception of
"the next world"--"the great beyond."  He was as completely free of the
crude idea that heaven is a shining locality in the sky, and hell a
yawning pit of fire below the earth, as the most exact scientific
scholar of the modern world is likely to be.  He had grasped the
essential and enduring character of man's spiritual nature so firmly
that he ceased to have any further interest in the mythological aspects
in which vivid and pictorial imagination has invested the unseen world.
"God's presence itself," he says, "is heaven, and if God did but put
away the veiling shadows, which now curtain thy sight, thou wouldst
see, even where thou now art, the Face of God and the heavenly gate.
God is so near that at any moment a holy Birth [a Birth into the Life
of God] may be accomplished in thy heart,"[43] and, again, in the same
book he writes: "If man's eyes were opened he would see God everywhere,
for heaven is everywhere for those who are in the innermost Birth.
When Stephen saw heaven opened and Jesus at the right hand of God, his
spirit did not swing itself aloft into some heaven in the sky, but it
rather penetrated into the innermost Birth where heaven always is.
Thou must not think that God is a Being who is off in an upper heaven,
or that when the soul departs it goes many hundred thousands of miles
aloft.  It does not need to do that, for as soon as it has entered the
innermost Birth it is in heaven already with God--_near and far in God
is one thing_."[44]

The "next world"--"the beyond"--therefore, must not be thought of in
terms of space and time, of here and there, of now and then, as a place
to which we shall journey at the momentous moment of death: "the soul
{187} needeth no going forth."[45]  As soon as the external veil of
flesh dissolves, each person is in his own country and has all the time
been in it.  There is nothing nearer to you than heaven and hell.  To
whichever of them you _incline_ and toward whichever of them you
tend--that is most near you, and every man has in himself the key.[46]
Heaven and hell are everywhere throughout the whole world.  You need
not seek them far off.

It is always the nature of "Anti-Christ" and "Babel" and
"opinion-peddlers" to seek God and heaven and hell above the stars or
under the deep.  There is only one "place" to look for God and that is
in one's own soul, there is only one "region" in which to find heaven
or hell, and that is in the nature and character of the person's own
desire and will: "Even though the devil should go many millions of
miles, desiring to see heaven and enter into it, yet he would still be
in hell and could not see heaven at all."[47]  The soul, Boehme says in
substance, hath heaven or hell in itself.  Heaven is the turning of the
will into God's love; hell is the turning of the will into hate.  Now
when the body falls away the heavenly soul is thoroughly penetrated
with the Love and Light of God, even as fire penetrates and enlightens
white-hot iron, whereby it loses its darkness--this is heaven and this
is the right hand of God.  The soul that dwells in falsehood, lust,
pride, envy, and anger carries hell in itself and cannot reach the
Light and Love of God.  Though it should go a thousand miles or a
thousand times ten thousand miles--even climb beyond the spaces of the
stars and the bounds of the universe--it would still remain in the same
property and source of darkness as before.[48]  The "next world"--"the
world beyond"--is {188} just _this_ world, as it is in each one of us,
with its essential spirit and nature and character clearly revealed and
fulfilled.  God creates and maintains no hell of ever-lasting torture;
He builds and supports no heaven of endless glory.  They are both
formed out of the soul's own substance as it turns toward light or
darkness, toward love or hate--in short, as "it keeps house," to use
one of his vivid words, with the eternal nature of things.

Something like this, then, was the universe which Boehme--with those
"azure-grey eyes that lighted up like the windows of Solomon's
Temple"--saw there in Görlitz, as he pegged his shoes.  "Open your
eyes," he once said, "and the whole world is full of God."[49]  But he
is not a pantheist, in the usual sense of that word, blurring away the
lines between good and evil, or the boundaries which mark off self from
self, and self from God.  There is forever, to be sure, a hidden
essence or substance in the soul which is from God, and which remains
to the end unlost and unspoiled--something to which God can speak and
to which His Light and Grace can make appeal; but I am indestructibly a
real I, and God is in His true nature no vague Abyss--He eternally
utters Himself as Person: "The first Abysmal God without beginning
begets a comprehensible will which is Son.  Thus the Abyss which in
itself is an indescribable Nothing [nothing in particular] forms itself
into Something [definite] through the Birth of a Son, and so is
Spirit."[50]  In God Himself there is only Good, only triumphing
eternal Joy,[51] but as soon as finite processes appear, as soon as
anything is differentiated into actuality, the potentialities of
darkness and light appear, the possibilities of good and evil are
there: "_All things consist in Yes or No.  In order to have anything
definite made manifest there must be a contrary therein--a Yes and a
No._"[52]  The universe, therefore, though it came forth out of the
eternal Mother and remains still, in its deepest origin and being,
rooted in the substance of God, is a {189} battleground of strife, an
endless Armageddon.  Both within and without the world is woven of
mixed strands, a warp of darkness and a woof of light, and all beings
possessed of will are thus actors in a mighty drama of eternal
significance, with exits, not only at the end of the Fifth Act but
throughout the play, through two gates into two worlds which are both
all the time present here and now.

[1] _Aurora_, xxi. 60-62.

[2] Swinburne, _Erechtheus_.

[3] See _Fifteenth Epistle_, 25.

[4] _Fifth Epistle_, 50.

[5] Like Paracelsus, he uses "sulphur" in a symbolic way to represent
an active energy of the universe and a form of will in man.  In a
similar way, "mercury" stands for intelligence and spirit, and "salt"
is the symbol for substance.  No one could find in a chemist's shop the
salt or sulphur that Boehme talks about!

[6] There is a fine saying about Dante in the Ottimo Commento: "I, the
writer, heard Dante say that never a rhyme had led him to say other
than he would, but that many a time and oft he had made words say for
him what they were not wont to say for other poets."

[7] _Sig. re._ ix. 1-3.  Paracelsus said, "Everything is the product of
one creative effort," and, "There is nothing corporeal that does not
possess a soul."

[8] _The Supersensual Life_, p. 44.

[9] Paracelsus and others used the term _Mysterium magnum_ to denote
the original, but unoriginated, matter out of which all things were
made.  "Mysterium" is anything out of which something germinally
contained in it can be developed.

[10] _Mysterium magnum_, xxix. 1-2.

[11] _Forty Questions_, i. 57.

[12] _Sig. re._ ii. 4-15, and iii. 1-10.

[13] _The Threefold Life of Man_, iii. 2.

[14] _Aurora_, iii. 35-39.

[15] _Ibid._ vi. 6-8; _Clavis_, 18-29.

[16] _Sig. re._ xvi. i.

[17] _Aurora_, xiii. 48-57; _Myst. mag._ viii. 31; _The Three
Principles_, iv. 66.

[18] _Sig. re._ xv. 38.

[19] _Myst. mag._ viii. 27.

[20] _Myst. mag._ xxix. 1-10.

[21] _The Three Principles_, iv. 68-74; _The Threefold Life_, iv. 33.

[22] _Myst. mag._ ix. 3-8.

[23] _Aurora_, Preface 84.

[24] Christopher Walton, _Notes and Materials for a Biography of Wm.
Law_ (London, 1854), 55.

[25] The great passages in which Boehme expounds the seven qualities
are found in the _Aurora_, chaps. viii.-xi.; _Sig. re._ chap. xiv.;
_The Clavis_, 54-132; though they are more or less definitely stated or
implied in nearly everything he wrote.  Seven "qualities" or
"principles" or "sources" appear and reappear in ever shifting forms
throughout the entire literature of Gnosticism, alchemy, and

[26] _Aurora_, viii. 32-35.

[27] Some of Boehme's enthusiastic friends insist that Sir Isaac
Newton, who was an admirer of Boehme, "ploughed with Boehme's heifer,"
_i.e._ got his suggestion of the law of universal gravitation from the
philosopher of Görlitz.  See Walton, _Notes_, p. 46 and _passim_.

[28] _Sig. re._ iv. _passim_.

[29] _Sig. re._ xiii.

[30] For fuller treatment of this point see Boutroux, _Historical
Studies in Philosophy_, chapter on "Jacob Boehme, the German
Philosopher," pp. 199-201.

[31] _Third Epistle_, 33.

[32] _Twenty-fourth Epistle_, 7; _Sig. re._ i.

[33] _The Threefold Life_, vi. 47.

[34] _The Three Princ._ xiv. 89; _First Epistle_, 42.

[35] _The Three Princ._ x. 26; xvi. 50.

[36] _Ibid._ x. 13.

[37] _Aurora_, xviii. 49.

[38] _Myst. mag._ xxii. 41.

[39] _Ibid._ xviii. 31-43, given in substance.

[40] _Ibid._ xxvi. 19.  The place of Christ in Boehme's system will be
given in the next chapter.

[41] _Myst. mag._ xxvi.  5.

[42] _Incarnation_, part ii. ix. 12-14.

[43] _Aurora_, x. 100-103.

[44] _Ibid._ xix. 56-59.

[45] _The Supersensual Life_, 36.

[46] _The Three Princ._ ix. 25-27 and xix. 33.

[47] _Myst. mag._ viii. 28.

[48] _The Supersensual Life_, 38.  Every reader will naturally be
reminded of Milton's great lines:

    "The mind is its own place, and in itself
    Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."

There were no doubt many _sources_ in Milton's time for such a
conception, but the poet surely would read the translations of Boehme
which were coming from the press all through the period of his literary

[49] _The Threefold Life_, xi. 106.

[50] _Election_, i. 10-17.

[51] _Aurora_, ii. 63.

[52] _Theosoph. Quest._ iii. 2-4.




"I will write a Process or Way which I myself have gone."[1]  Most
writers who have treated of Boehme have mainly dealt with his
_Weltanschauung_--his theosophical view of the Abyss and the worlds of
time and eternity,--or they have devoted themselves to descriptions of
his type of mysticism.[2]  His important permanent contribution to
Christianity is, however, to be found in his interpretation of the way,
or, as he calls it, the process of salvation.  Very much that he wrote
about the procession of the universe is capricious and subjective.  His
interpretations of Genesis, and of Old Testament Scripture in general,
are thoroughly uncritical and of value only as they reveal his own mind
and his occasional flashes of insight.  But his accounts of his own
_experience_ and his message of the way to God possess an elemental and
universal value, and belong among the precious words of the prophets of
the race.  His Way of Salvation is in direct line with the central
ideas of Denck, Bünderlin, Entfelder, Franck, Schwenckfeld, and Weigel;
that is, his emphasis is always, as was theirs, upon the native divine
possibilities of the soul, upon the fact of a spiritual environment in
immediate correspondence and co-operation with the soul, and upon the
necessity of personal and inward experience as the key to every gate of
life; but he puts more stress even than Schwenckfeld did {191} upon the
epoch-making new birth, and he sees more in the Person of Christ as the
way of salvation than any of the spiritual Reformers of the sixteenth
century had seen, while his own personal experience was so unique and
illuminating, so profound and transforming, that he was able to speak
on divine things with a grasp and insight and with a spiritual
authority beyond that attained by any of the reformers in this group.
He has given, I think, as profound and as simple, and at the same time
as vital an interpretation of salvation through Christ as the
Reformation movement produced before the nineteenth century, and much
that he said touches the very core of what seems to us to-day to be the
heart of the Gospel, the central fact of mature religion.[3]

As we have seen, Boehme does not in the least blink the tragic depth of
sin, while he goes as far as anybody in holding that "the centre of
man's soul came out of eternity,"[4] that "as a mother bringeth forth a
child out of her own substance and nourisheth it therewith, so doth God
with man his child,"[5] and that the inward ground and centre of the
soul, with its divine capacity of response to Grace and Light, is an
inalienable possession of every man.[6]  Yet, at the same time, he
insists that there is in every soul "both a yes and a no," a vision of
the good and a _contrarium_, a hunger for the universal will of God and
a hunger for the particular will of self.[7]  The form of hunger, the
inclination of desire, the attitude of will shapes the destiny, forms
the fundamental disposition, and builds the life of every man into
heaven or into hell--"a man puts on a garment of light or a garment of
wrath as he puts on clothes."[8]  To consent to false desire, to turn
toward objects that feed only the particular selfish will, to live in
the lower "qualities" of dark-fire is to {192} form a soul _tinctured_
with darkness and sundered from the eternal root of Life.  Lucifer went
the whole way in his consent to false and evil desire.  He said, "Evil
be thou my good!" and formed his entire nature out of the
dark-principle, and "his Light went out."  Adam and his offspring after
him, however, only dimmed the native Light and deadened the original
power that belongs to one who comes from God, to live in heavenly
harmony and joy.  Man has fallen indeed, but he is not hopelessly lost,
he is "forever seeking his native country," and he forever bears within
himself an immortal seed which may burst into Life--into a
"Lily-blossom."[9]  The way of salvation for Boehme is the _process_ by
which this original Light and power, dimmed and deadened by sin, are
restored to the soul.

He never tires of insisting that the restoration can come only by a
_process of Life_, not by a "scheme" of theology.  Like the early
prophets of Israel, in their sweeping attacks on the ritual and
sacrificial systems that were being substituted for moral and spiritual
life, Boehme flings himself with holy passion against the substitution
of doctrines of salvation for a real life-process of salvation,
personally experienced in the soul.  "Cain" and "Babel" are his two
favourite types of the prevailing substitute-religion which he calls
"verbal," or "historical," or "titular" Christianity.[10]  "Whatever
Babel teaches," he says, "of external imputed righteousness, or of
external assumed adoption is without foundation or footing."[11]  He is
still only a follower of "Cain" who tries to cover his old, evil,
unchanged self "with the purple mantle of Christ's death."[12]  The
"opinion" that the old man of evil-will can be "covered" with Christ's
merit, the "faith" that His death pays off for us the debt of our sin
is only "a supposed religion."[13]  "Christianity," he says again,
"does not consist in the mere knowing of history and applying the
history-knowledge to ourselves, {193} saying: 'Christ died for us; He
hath paid the ransom for us, so that we need do nothing but comfort
ourselves therewith and steadfastly believe that it is so.'"[14]  The
"doctors" and "the wise world" and "the makers of opinion" will have it
that Christ has suffered on the Cross for all our sins, and that we can
be justified and acquitted of all our transgressions by what He did for
us, but it is no true, safe way for the soul.  To stake faith upon a
history that once was, to look for "satisfaction" through the
sufferings which Christ endured before we were born is to be "the child
of an assumed grace," is to possess a mere external and historical
faith that leaves the dim, weak soul where it was before.  All such
"invented works" and "supposed schemes" are of Anti-Christ, they "avail
nothing" whatever toward the real process of salvation.[15]

The gravamen of his charge is not that the "opinions" are false, or
that the "history" is unimportant, but that "opinions" and "history"
are taken as substitutes for religion itself, which is and must always
be an actual inward process constructing a new and victorious life in
the person himself.  "All fictions, I say, and devices which men
contrive to come to God by are lost labour and vain endeavour _without
a new mind_.  Verbal forgiveness and outward imputation of
righteousness are false and vain comforts--soft cushions for the evil
soul--without the creation of a will wholly new, which loveth and
willeth evil no more."[16]  The whole problem, then, is the problem of
the formation of a new vision, a new desire, a new will, and Boehme
finds the solution of this deepest human problem in Christ.  Christ is
the Light-revelation of God--the shining forth of the Light and Love
nature of the Eternal God.  It must not be supposed for a moment that
once--before satisfaction was made to Him--God was an angry God who had
to be "reconciled" by a transaction, or that there was _a time in
history_ when God began to reveal His Heart in a Christ-revelation, or
{194} that when Christ became man, Deity divided itself into sundered
Persons.[17]  "No.  You ought not to have such thoughts," Boehme says.
The Heart and Light and Love of God are from eternity.  Christ has
never sundered or broken Himself away from God; they are not two but
forever One.  All the Light and Love and Joy of God have blossomed into
the Christ-manifestation and become revealed in Him.  Like everything
else in the universe, Christ is both outward and inward.  He belongs in
the eternal inward world and He also has had His temporal manifestation
in the visible world.  The Heart of God became a human soul, brought
the fulness of the Deity into humanity, and slew the spirit of the
world.[18]  The inward penetrated the outward and illuminated it with
Light.[19]  Christ entered into humanity and tinctured it with
Deity.[20]  In Him the Heart of God became man, and in the power of the
heavenly Light He wrestled with our wild human nature and conquered
it.[21]  Eternity and time are united in Him.[22]  He is the wedding
chamber of God and man.[23]  He is God and man in one undivided
Person.[24]  He is actual God; He is essential man--the God-man, the
man-God, in whom the arms of everlasting Love are outstretched and
through whom humanity is brought into the power of the Eternal God.[25]
It was in this "dear Emmanuel," as he often calls Christ, that "Love
became man and put on our human flesh and our human soul,"[26] and the
full power of Eternal Love stood revealed in time, for "One who is Love
itself was born of our own very birth."[27]  The Cross was not a
transaction.  It was the culmination of this mighty Love, for "here on
the cross hung God and man"--God's Love springing forth in a soul
strong enough to show it in its full scope.[28]

But let no person think that he can "cover himself with the purple
mantle of Christ's sufferings and death," {195} and so win his
salvation: "Thou thyself," he says, "must go through Christ's whole
journey, and enter wholly into His process."[29]  "We become children
of God in Christ," he wrote in one of his Epistles, "not by an outward,
adventitious show of appropriating Grace, not through some merit of
Grace appropriated from without, or received in an historical
apprehension of being justified by another, but through an inward,
resident Grace, which regenerates us into childlikeness, so that Christ
the conqueror of death arises in us and becomes a dominating operation
in us."[30]  This is the heart of his entire message.  Every step must
be experimental.  Salvation is an inward process, and Christ is
efficacious and effective because _He lives and operates in us_.  "The
suffering and death of Christ," he says, "avail only for those who die
to their own will in and with Christ, and are buried with Him to a new
will and obedience, and hate sin; who put on Christ in His suffering,
reproach, and persecution, take His cross upon them and follow Him
under His red banner; to those who put on Christ in His process and now
become in the inward spiritual man Christ's members and the Temple of
God who dwells in us.  No one has a right to comfort himself with
Christ's merits unless he desires wholly to put on Christ in himself.
He is not a Christian until he has put Him on by true repentance and
conversion to Him with absolute resignation and self-denial, so that
Christ espouseth and betrotheth Himself with him. . . .  For a
Christian must be born of Christ and must die to the will of Adam.  He
must have Christ in him and be a member of His Life according to the
spiritual man."[31]

Faith, which is always the key-word in any person's interpretation of
Christianity, is for Boehme a dynamic process of appropriating Christ,
and of re-living Him.  "Faith," he writes in his treatise on _The
Incarnation_, {196} "is not historical knowledge for a man to make
articles of it and to depend on them, but faith is one spirit with God,
it is the activity of God; it is free, but only for the right and for
pure Love, in which it draws the breath of its power and strength.  It
is, finally, itself the substance."[32]  Faith is, thus, not knowledge,
it is not believing facts of history, it is not accepting metaphysical
dogma.  It is, as he is never weary of saying, "strong earnestness of
spirit," the earnest will to live in the inward and eternal, passionate
hunger and thirst for God, and finally the act of receiving Christ into
the soul as a present power and spirit to live by.  "I must die," he
wrote, "with my outward man [the man of self-centred will] in Christ's
death and arise and live anew in Him.  Therefore I live now by the will
of faith in the spirit of Christ and receive Christ with His humanity
into my will.  He makes through me a manifestation of the spiritual
world and introduces the true Love-sound into the harp-strings of my
life.  He became that which I am, and now He has made me that which He

Another word for this efficacious and dynamic Faith is "Birth" or
"innermost Birth," by which Boehme means the act of discovering the
Gate to the Heart and Love and Light of God, and of entering it.  "The
Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, the Glance and Brightness
and Power of Eternal Light must become man and _be born in you_;
otherwise you are in the dark stable and go about groping."[34]  "If
thou art born of God, then within the circle of thy own life is the
whole undivided Heart of God."[35]  It is a transforming event by which
one swings over from life in the outer to life in the inner world, from
life in the dark world to life in the light world, and is born into the
kingdom, or principle, which Christ revealed in His triumphant
spiritual Life.  The human spirit, by this innermost Birth, reaches the
principle of Life by which Christ lived, and the gate into heaven is
opened and paradise is in the soul.  In a {197} beautiful passage he
says: "This birth must be wrought within you.  The Heart, or the Son of
God must arise in the birth of your life, and then you are in Christ
and He is in you, and all that He and the Father have is yours; and as
the Son is one with the Father, so also the new man is one with the
Father and with the Son, one virtue, one power, one light, one life,
one eternal paradise, one enduring substance, one Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, and thou His child!"[36]  God is no longer conceived as far
away.  He is now with His Love and Light as near as the soul is to
itself, and the joy of being born in Christ is like the joy of parents
when a little child is born to them.[37]  God's will now becomes the
man's will, he turns back into the unity from which he broke away, he
sees now in one moment what all the doctors in the schools, on the mere
level of reason, have never seen, and his inward eye is so opened that
he knows God as soon as his eye turns toward Him.[38]

This Faith-process, or innermost life-birth, is not the act of a moment
that is over and done with.  It means the progressive formation of a
new man within the man, so that the real Christian becomes a living
branch in a mighty Christ-Tree.  Just as Adam was the trunk of a great
race-tree of fallen humanity, Christ is to be the Eternal Life-Tree of
the universe in whom all the new-born souls of men shall live as
springing, flowering branches or twigs: God created only one Man; all
other men are twigs of the One Stem.[39]  "In Christ," he says, "we are
all only one, as a tree in many boughs and branches," and, with a
return to autobiography, Boehme adds, "His Life has been brought into
mine, so that I am atoned with Him in His Love.  The will of Christ has
entered into humanity again in me, and now my will in me enters into
His humanity."[40]  He writes to one of his Silesian friends: "You are
a growing branch in the Life-Tree of God in Christ, in whom all the
children of God are also branches," and he adds that there is "no other
faith {198} which saves except Christ in us," the Life of our
lives.[41]  Sometimes he calls this triumphant experience the birth of
a new branch in Christ's Life-Tree, sometimes the birth of the Lily in
Christ's garden of flowers, sometimes it is the birth of the immortal
seed.  Sometimes it is uniting in life and spirit with Him who is "the
Treader on the Serpent," sometimes it is finding the noble Virgin,
sometimes it is discovering the Philosopher's Stone, sometimes it is
winning the precious Diadem, sometimes it is possessing the key which
unlocks the Door, sometimes it is arriving at the Sabbath Quiet of the
soul.  These are only a variety of ways, many of them forgotten
inheritances from alchemy and astrology, of saying that the soul finds
its goal in an experience which binds it into one common corporate life
with Christ and so into an elemental Love-Unity with God: whoever is
born of Christ liveth and walketh in Him, puts Him on in His suffering,
death, and resurrection, becomes a member of Christ's body, is
"tinctured" with His spirit, and has his own human life rooted in the
Love of God.[42]  Here, then, in the creation and formation of this
organic Life-Tree the universe attains its ultimate goal.  It is wholly
an achievement of free will, of holy choice.  The dark Principle is not
annihilated, is not suppressed, but the Heart of God moves ever on in a
steadily growing triumph, binding soul after soul into the divine
Igdrasil Tree of the Light Universe, in a unity that is not now the
unity of negation and undifferentiation--an Abyss that swallows up all
that is in it,--but a unity of many wills united in a spirit of concord
and love, many persons formed by holy desire into one unbroken symphony
as harps of God.

With the change of _centre_ in the inner man corresponds also the outer
life of word and deed, for the outer, here as everywhere, is only the
"signature" of an inner which fits it: "A man must show the root of the
tree out of which spirit and flesh have their origin."[43]  When the
will becomes new-born and the soul unites itself as a twig {199} in
Christ's Life-Tree, then it ceases to love sin and will it.  When God
brings His will into birth in us, He gives us virtue and power to will
what He wills, and to leave our sins behind.[44]  The attitude of hate,
the spirit of war are marks of the old unchanged nature, and are
heathenish and not Christian.  When Christ is formed in the inner
ground of the soul, a man leaves the sword in the sheath and lives in
the virtue and power of peace and love.  "What will Christ say," he
asks the ministers of the Church of his day, "when He sees your
apostolic hearts covered with armor?  When He gave you the sword of the
Spirit, did He command you to fight and make war, or to instigate kings
and princes to put on the sword and kill?"[45]

Like the prophets of Israel, he feels intensely the sufferings of the
poor and the oppressed, and he breaks out frequently into a biting
satire on a kind of Christianity which not only neglects the true
_cure_ of soul and body, but "consumes the sweat and blood of the
needy," and feeds upon "the sighs and groans and tears of the
poor."[46]  The true idea of a _real_ Christianity is "fraternity in
the Life of Christ"--"thy brother's soul," he says, "is a fellow-member
with thy soul,"[47] and he insists, as though it were the mighty burden
of his spirit, that all possessions, goods, and talents shall
contribute to the common life of humanity and to the benefit of the
social group.[48]  It is much better for parents to labour to form good
souls in their children than to strive to gather and to leave behind
for them great riches and abundance of goods![49]  Self-desire is a
ground not only of personal disquiet but also of social disturbance,
and Boehme feels that the way to spread peace and joy through the world
is to cultivate the Love-spirit of Christ and to practice it in
fellowship with men.

Like his German predecessor, Sebastian Franck, he is {200} primarily
concerned with the invisible Church, and he holds lightly to the
empirical Church as he knows it.  The Church to which his spirit is
dedicated is the organic Life-Tree of which Christ is the living Stem.
The holy Zion is not from without, he says, it is built up of those who
are joined to Christ and who all live together in one city which is
Christ in us.[50]  A Christian in the life belongs to no sect, he
ceases to wrangle over opinions and words, he dwells in the midst of
sects and Babel-churches, but he keeps above the controversies and
contentions, and "puts his knowing and willing into the Life of
Christ," and works quietly on toward the formation and triumph of the
one true Christian Church,[51] which will be, when its glory is
complete, the visible expression of the Divine Life-Tree.

He dislikes, as much as did the English Quaker, George Fox, the custom
of calling "stone houses" churches, and he will not admit that a
building is anything but a building: "Stone houses, called churches,
have no greater holiness than other houses, for they are built of stone
and other such material, as other houses are, and God is no more
powerful in them than He is in other houses, but the Church [_i.e._ the
Congregation] which meets there, if the members of it bind themselves
by prayer into one body in Christ, is a holy Temple of Jesus

His attitude toward outward sacraments consistently fits in with all
his central teachings.  The outward, for Boehme, is never unimportant.
It is always significant and can always be used as a parable or symbol
of something inner and eternal.  But the outward is at best only
temporal, only symbolic, and it becomes a hindrance if it is taken for
the real substance of which it is only the outward "signature": "The
form shall be destroyed and shall cease with time, but the spirit
remains forever."[53]  The sacraments, he declares, do not take away
sin, for men go to church all their lives and receive the sacraments
{201} and remain as wicked and beastly as ever--while a holy man always
has a Church within himself and an inward ministry.[54]  Blessedness,
therefore, lies not in the outward, but in the life and power of the
inward spirit, and it is only a Babel-Church that claims the right to
cast out those who have the real substance and neglect only the outward
form.[55]  In his _Treatise on the Holy Supper_, he wrote: "It is not
enough for a man to hear sermons preached, and to be baptised in the
name of Christ, and to go to the Supper.  This maketh no Christian.
For that, there must be _earnestness_.  No person is a Christian unless
Christ live and work in him."[56]

The pith and heart of Christianity, the consummate goal of the way of
Salvation, for Boehme is, as we have seen, not "history" and not any
kind of outward "form" or "letter"--_buchstäbliches Wort_,--it is an
experience in which the soul finds itself "at the top of Jacob's
ladder," and feels its life in God and God's Life in it in an ineffable
Love-union.  He has himself given a very simple and penetrating account
of this type of experience drawn from what he calls his own book of
life: "Finding within myself a powerful _contrarium_, namely, the
desires that belong to flesh and blood, I began to fight a hard battle
against my corrupted nature, and with the aid of God I made up my mind
to overcome the inherited evil will, to break it, and to enter wholly
into the Love of God. . . .  This, however, was not possible for me to
accomplish, but I stood firmly by my _earnest resolution_, and fought a
hard battle with myself.  Now while I was wrestling and battling, being
aided by God, a wonderful light arose within my soul.  It was a light
entirely foreign to my unruly nature, but in it I recognized the true
nature of God and man, and the relation existing between them, a thing
which heretofore I had never understood."[57]  In one of his other
autobiographical passages, he says that after much earnest seeking and
desire and many a hard repulse, "the Gate was opened!"  These are {202}
characteristic accounts of a profound mystical experience.  There had
been long stress and inward battle, the tension of a divided self, and
then a great ground swell of earnest will--a resolve, he says, to put
my life in hazard rather than give over, when "a wonderful light arose
within the soul" and "the Gate was opened."  And "when this mighty
light fell upon me, I saw," he says, in still another description, "in
an effectual peculiar manner, and I knew in the spirit."[58]

The central aspect of his experience was plainly an overmastering
_conviction_ of contact with, an immersion into, a deeper world of
spirit and of inner unity of life and spirit with this deeper world.
His own personal spirit united, as he once put it, "with the innermost
Birth in God and stood in the Light."[59]  He discovered that "God goes
clean another way to work" than by the way of reasoning or of sense
experience[60]--instead of waiting for man to climb up to Him, He
climbs up into man's soul.[61]  By a new and inner way, to change the
figure, the tides of the shoreless Divine Sea break in upon the life of
a man and bathe his entire being.  It seems to Boehme, at one time,
like the rising of a mid-noon Sun, with illuminating rays, and he
describes the experience in terms of Light and enlarged Vision, or,
again, it appears like the bursting open of a secret door into a world
of new dimensions, and he calls it the opening of the Gate, or now
again he feels as though the elemental creative power of God had burst
into operation within him and that a mighty birth-process had lifted
him to a new kingdom, or to a new order of nature, or, finally, hushed
and soothed and healed as though he had suddenly found the breast of an
infinite Mother, he describes his state as "the innermost Quiet"--the
return to "the soul's eternal native country and abiding Home."
Descriptions here all fail and are only "stammering words of a child,"
as Boehme himself says.  But, as a matter of fact, descriptions fail
and fall short in the case of all genuine life-experiences, {203} even
those that are most universal and common to the race.  How one feels
when after nights of agony from watching over a child that is hovering
between life and death, and seemingly certain to slip away from human
reach, the doctor says, "He has passed the crisis and the danger is
over!" one cannot describe.  Whenever it is a matter that concerns the
inner _quick_ of the soul, all words are the stammerings of a child.

The true mystical experience is not primarily a knowledge-experience,
it is not the apprehension of one more describable fact to be added to
our total stock of information--what Boehme so often calls "opinions"
and "history,"--it is a sudden plunge or immersion into the stream of
Life itself, it is an interior appreciation of the higher meaning of
life by the discovery of a way of entering the Life-process, or,
better, of letting the Life-process enter you, on a higher level than
is usual.  Life always advances by a kind of leap, an _élan_, which
would not have been predicted or anticipated, but which, now it is here
revealed in a being with a novel function and a higher capacity of
survival, will lift the whole scale of life henceforth to a new level.
So, in some way which must for the present at least remain mysterious,
the eternal Source of Life, when it finds a human door ready for its
entrance, breaks in--or shall we say that the _earnest will_ climbs up
and pushes open the door into new regions in this eternal Life
Source?--and it seems then, as Boehme says, as though "the true nature
of God and man and the true relation between God and man" had been
found.  The mystical experience is, thus, one way, perhaps the highest
we have yet discovered, of entering the Life-process itself and of
gaining an interior appreciation of Reality by living in the central
stream and flow of it, so that the Spirit can "break through" and can
"see into the Depth of Deity."

Boehme appears to hold two inconsistent and seemingly contradictory
views about the human attitude which is the psychological pre-condition
for this epoch-making experience.  In his own autobiographical {204}
accounts, he always refers to the part that _earnest resolution_ has
played in bringing success to his momentous quest.  No great mystic
since St. Augustine has made more of the will in spiritual matters than
he does.  We have seen how the doors to both world-kingdoms stand
before the soul, and how "free-will," "earnest purpose," "decisive
endeavour" settle for each soul which door shall open and which shall
shut, and so determine its eternal destiny.  "Election" is, for Boehme,
a fiction of the false imagination, a "Babel-opinion," a perverse
invention of "the Church of Cain."  Christ never says "thou couldst
not," but rather "thou wouldst not."[62]

Not only does he, in a general way, thus make the will the decisive
element in human destiny, he also implies that the creative "flash" of
spiritual insight, "the innermost birth" which brings the soul into
living union with its source is due, on the human side, to
"resolution," to "earnestness," to "valiant wrestling," to a brave
venture of faith that risks everything.  It requires "mighty
endurance," "hard labour," "stoutness of spirit," and "a great storm,
assault, and onset" to open the Gate.  In a word, the key to any
important spiritual experience is _intention_, inward pre-perception,
that holds the mind intently focussed in expectation, without which the
"flash" of spiritual vision is not likely to come.

But on the other hand Boehme is a powerful exponent of the idea that
desire and will must utterly, absolutely die before God can come to
birth in the soul--"Christ is born and lives in our Nothingness."[63] A
man, he says, must die wholly to self-hood, forsake it and enter again
into the original Nothing,--the eternal Unity in which nothing is
willed in particular,--before God can have His way with him; all sin
arises from self-hood, from desire.[64]  "How," asks a disciple in one
of Boehme's imaginary dialogues, "shall I come to the hidden centre
where God dwelleth and not man?  Tell me plainly, loving sir, how it is
to be found and entered into?"


_The Master_: "There where the soul hath slain its own will and willeth
no more anything of itself." . . .

_The Disciple_: "But how shall I comprehend it?"

_The Master_: "If thou goest about to comprehend in thy own will, it
flieth from thee, but if thou dost surrender thyself wholly, then thou
art dead to thy own will, and Love will be the Life of thy nature."[65]
He seems to go as far in this direction toward the annihilation of
desire, negation of the finite, and loss of self-hood as any of the
pantheistic mystics.  This sample passage will indicate his teaching:
"When thou art wholly gone forth from the creature and become nothing
to all that is nature and creature, then thou art in that Eternal One
which is God Himself, and then thou shalt experience the supreme virtue
of Love."[66]

These two diverse statements are, however, not as inconsistent as they
at first seem.  The _will_, the _intention_ that is a psychological
preparation for this mystical experience is a will washed and purged of
selfish impulse and self-seeking aims.  It is an _intention_ that
cannot be described in terms of any finite "content."  It is the
intense heave of the whole undivided being toward God with no
reservation, no calculation of return profits, no thought even of
isolated and independent personality.  A true account of consciousness,
preceding the moment of bursting through the Gate, might emphasize with
equal accuracy either the "earnest resolution," "the storm and onset of
will," or "the annihilation of particular desire," "the surrender of
individualistic self-hood," "death to own will in the Life and Virtue
of Love."

The effects of such an experience as that which came to Boehme, if we
may take his case as typical, are (1) The birth of an inner conviction
of God's immediate and environing Presence amounting to axiomatic
certainty--faith through experience has become "the substance," and "is
now one spirit with God"; (2) The radiation of the whole being with "a
joy like that which parents have at the birth of their first-born
child"--the joy now of the {206} soul crying, "Abba"; (3) A vastly
heightened perception of what is involved in the eternal nature of the
religious life and in the spiritual relation between the soul and God,
_i.e._ increased ability to see what promotes and furthers the soul's
health and development; (4) A unification, co-ordination, and
centralizing of the inner faculties, so that there is an increment of
power revealed in the entire personality; and (5) An increase of
clarity and a sharpening of focus in the perception of moral
distinctions together with a distinctly heightened moral and social

Boehme himself always believed, further, that his entire system of
ideas, his philosophy of the universe, and his way of salvation were a
"revelation" of the Spirit to him,--in a word, that his wisdom was
"theosophy," a God-communicated knowledge.  I have no desire to mark
off dogmatically the scope and possible limits of "revelation," nor is
it necessary here to discuss the abstract question whether "ideas" are
ever "communicated" to a mind _ab extra_, and without the mediation of
subjective processes, or not.  In the concrete case of Jacob Boehme, I
do not find any compelling evidence of the unmediated communication of
ideas.  He was a man of unusual native capacity, and, though untrained,
his mind possessed a high order of range and quality, and swept, as he
was, by a mighty transforming experience, he _found himself_ in novel
fashion, and was the recipient of inspirations, which fired and fused
his soul, gave him heightened insight into the significance of things
old and new, and often enabled him to build better than he knew.  He
is, however, obviously using the stock of ideas which his generation
and those early and late before it, had made "part of the necessary air
men breathed."  His terminology and symbolism were as old as mythology,
and were the warp and woof of the nature philosophies and the alchemy
of his day.  His impressive and spiritual interpretation of
Christianity is always deep and vital, and freighted with the weight of
his own inward direct appreciation of God's revelation of Himself in
Christ, {207} but even here he is walking on a road which many brave
souls before him had helped to build, and we cannot with truth say that
he supplies us with a new gospel which had been privately
"communicated" to him.  In fact, the portions of his voluminous
writings which bear the mark of having been written as automatic
script--by "this hand," as he often says--are the chaotic and confused
portions, full of monotonous repetitions, of undigested and
indigestible phrases and the dreary re-shufflings of sub-conscious
wreckage.  Boehme used to say that "in the time of the lily" his
writings would be "much sought after."  But I doubt if, even "in the
time of the lily," most persons will have the patience to read this
shoemaker-prophet's books in their present form, that is, if "in the
time of the lily" men still enjoy and prize intelligence and lucidity;
but there already is enough of "the lily-spirit" in the world to
appreciate and to give thanks for the experience, the flashes of
insight, the simple wisdom, the brave sincerity, the inner certainty of
the true World within the world we see, and the spiritual message of
"the way to the soul's native Country," which he has given us.

[1] _True Repentance_, i.

[2] I have given his _Weltanschauung_ in the previous chapter, and I
shall discuss his mysticism at the end of this chapter.

[3] Hegel says that Boehme's piety is "in the highest degree deep and
inward."--_History of Philos._ iii. p. 216.

[4] _True Resignation_, iii. 20.

[5] _The Three Princ._, Preface, 4.

[6] "There is in every man an incorporate ground of Grace, an inner
Temple of Christ, the soul's immortal Dowry.  No man can sell or pawn
this ground of Grace, this habitation and dwelling-place of Christ.  It
remains unlost as the possession of God--an inward Ground and spiritual
substance."--_Myst. mag._ lxxiv. 20-33, freely rendered.

[7] _Sig. re._ xv. 45.

[8] _Aurora_, xviii. 43.

[9] _The Three Princ._, xiv. 3 and 12; also _ibid._ 85 and 88.

[10] _Myst. mag._ xxvii. 41.

[11] _Ninth Epistle_, 16.

[12] _Myst. mag._ xxvii. _passim_; also _Seventh Epistle_, 11-14.

[13] _Tenth Epistle_, 13-14.

[14] _Regeneration_, 6.

[15] For a sample passage see _Sig. re._ xv. 22-47.

[16] _True Resignation_, 30-41.  Freely rendered.

[17] _The Three Princ._ xxxiii. 8-17.

[18] _Ibid._ xix. 6.

[19] _Sig. re._ ix. 67.

[20] _Ibid._ xi. 88.

[21] _Aurora_, Preface, 27.

[22] _Sig. re._ xi. 80.

[23] Prayer in _True Repentance_.

[24] _Three Princ._ xxii. 81.

[25] _Myst. mag._ lxx. 7-10; _Three Princ._ xviii. 80; and
_Supersensual Life_, 27.

[26] _Three. Princ._ xxv. 43.

[27] _Ibid._ xxv. 6.

[28] Read _Ibid._ xxv. 7-41.

[29] _True Repentance_.

[30] _First Epistle_, 6.  Hegel well says of Boehme: "What marks him
out and makes him noteworthy is the Protestant principle of placing the
intellectual world within one's own mind and heart, and of experiencing
and knowing and feeling in one's own self-consciousness all that was
formerly conceived as a Beyond."--_History of Philos._ iii. p. 191.

[31] _Tenth Epistle_, 16-19.

[32] _Incarnation_, part iii. chap. i. 5-15.

[33] _Sig. re._ xii. 10-13.

[34] _The Threefold Life_, iii. 31.

[35] _Ibid._ vi. 71.

[36] _The Three Princ._ iv. 9.

[37] _Aurora_, xix. 52-66.

[38] _Myst. mag._ lxxii. 7-10.

[39] _Ibid._ xxiv. 17.

[40] _Sig. re._ ix. 63.

[41] _Seventh Epistle_, 1.

[42] _Ibid._, 6 and 12.

[43] _Apology to Stiefel_, 23.

[44] _True Resignation_, iii. 21.

[45] _Myst. mag._ lxii. 25.

[46] _The Three Principles_, xix. 47; xxi. 32.; _Sig. re._ viii. 27.

[47] _Forty Questions_, xii. 39.

[48] For an example of it, see _Myst. mag._ lxxiv. 46.

[49] _Forty Questions_, x. 9.

[50] _Fourth Epistle_, 32, and _True Repentance_.

[51] _Regeneration_, 161-162.

[52] _Myst. mag._ lxiii. 47.  This theme constantly reappears.

[53] _Sig. re._ xv. 37.

[54] _Resignation_, vi. 134-151.

[55] _Forty Questions_, xiv. 17-19.

[56] _Op. cit._ iv. 16.

[57] Von Hartmann's _Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme_, p. 50.

[58] _Twenty-fifth Epistle_, 2.

[59] _Aurora_, xix. 95.

[60] _Twenty-sixth Epistle_, 7.

[61] _Aurora_, xviii. 9.

[62] _Sig. re._ xvi. 38.

[63] _Ibid._ ix. 65.

[64] _Ibid._ xiii. 27 and xv. 9.

[65] _The Supersensual Life_, 29 and 30.

[66] _Ibid._ 27.




The first appearance in English of any of the writings of Jacob Boehme
was in 1645, when a tiny volume was issued with the title: _Two
Theosophical Epistles, Englished_.

There had appeared a year earlier (1644) a seven-page biography of
Boehme which was the first presentation of him to the English reader.
This brief sketch contains the well-known incidents which became the
stock material for the later accounts of his life.[1] It also contained
the following quaint description of Boehme which was the model for all
the portraits of the Teutonic philosopher in the English biographies of
him: "The stature of his outward body was almost of no Personage; his
person was little and leane, with browes somewhat inbowed; high
Temples, somewhat hauk-nosed: His eyes were gray and somewhat heaven
blew, and otherwise as the Windows in Solomon's Temple: He had a thin
Beard; a small low Voyce.  His Speech was lovely.  He was modest in his
Behaviour, humble in his conversation and meeke in his heart.  His
spirit was highly enlightened by God, as is to be seen and discerned in
the Divine Light out of his writings."

The slender volume of _Theosophical Epistles_ was followed by another
little book issued a year later (1646), {209} consisting of a Discourse
delivered in Latin in the Schools at Cambridge by Charles Hotham,
Rector of Wigan.  This Discourse was translated into English by the
author's brother, Justice Durant Hotham, and was published under the
title: _Introduction to Teutonic Philosophy, or A Determination
concerning the Original of the Soul_, Englished by D. F. [Durant
Frater], 1650.  This interesting little volume, full of quaint phrase
and strange speculation, reflects throughout its pages the profound
influence of Boehme on these two brothers.  The Preface to the
Englished edition written by Justice Hotham not only shows specific
marks of Boehme's influence upon a high-minded and scholarly man, but
it also reveals in an impressive way a type of thought that was very
prevalent in England at this period of commotion.  "There are," Justice
Hotham says, "two islands of exceeding danger, yet built upon and
inhabited and defended as part of the main continent of Truth.  The
first is called: 'I believe as the Church believeth.'  Happy man whom
so easie labour hath set on the shore of wisdom!  The other island is
called: 'whatsoever the Church believes that will I not believe.'"
Both these "islands" seem to him "exceeding dangerous."  To adopt as
truth what the Church has believed, solely because the Church has
believed it, to forego the personal quest and to arrive at "the shores
of wisdom" without the venturous voyage, is "too easie labour" for the
soul.  But, nevertheless, he feels that the opposite danger--the danger
of negating a truth merely because the Church affirms it--is even more
serious.  It is wise to maintain an attitude of "much reverence" toward
the "unanimous consent of good and pious men in sacred matters."  He
suggests that the way of wisdom consists in making the "I believe" of
the Church "neither a fetter nor a scandel."  "May I be," he says, "in
the bed-route of those Seekers that, distrusting the known and
experienced deceits of their own Reason, walk unfettered in the quest
of truth, . . . not hunting those poor soules with Dogge and speare
whose dimme sight hath led them into desert and unbeated {210} paths."
This was in all probability the Justice Hotham of whom George Fox
wrote: "He was a pretty tender man yt had had some experiences of God's
workeinge in his hearte: & after yt I had some discourse with him off
ye things of God hee tooke mee Into his Closett & saide _hee had knowne
yt principle_ [of the Light] _this 10 yeere_: & hee was glad yt ye
Lorde did now publish it abroade to ye people."[2]

Like his Teutonic master, Justice Hotham distrusts Reason and Sense as
spiritual guides.  They are at best, he says, "but guides of the night,
dim lights set up, far distant from Truth's stately mansion, to lead
poor groping souls in this world's affairs."  The surer Guide is within
the soul itself, for the soul of man, he insists, has "a noble descent
from eternal essences" and "our nobel Genealogy should mind us of our
Father's House and make us weary of tutelage under hairy Faunes and
cloven-footed Satyres."[3]  He shows that he has lost all interest in
theological speculations that assume a God remote in time and space, a
God who once created a world and left it to go to ruin.  He reminds his
readers that the God in whom he believes is "yet alive and still
speaks."[4]  In the light of this Preface, in which he declares that he
has "suckt in truth from divinest philosophy" from his childhood, it is
not strange that he welcomed Fox, when the latter appeared in Yorkshire
in 1651, proclaiming an inward Light and a present God near at hand,
nor is it surprising that Hotham said to the young prophet of the
inward Guide: "If God had not raised uppe this principle of light and
life, ye nation had beene overspread with rantism . . . but this
principle of truth overthrew ye roote & grounde of there [_i.e._ the
Ranters'] principle."[5]

The enthusiasm of Justice Hotham for his Teutonic master gets fervid
expression at the end of his Preface as follows: "Whatever the thrice
great Hermes [Hermes Trismegistus] delivered as oracles from his
prophetical tripos, or Pythagoras spake by authority or {211} Socrates
debated or Aristotle affirmed; yea, whatever divine Plato prophesied or
Plotinus proved: this and all this, or a far higher and profounder
philosophy is (I think) contained in the Teutonick's writings.  And if
there be any friendly medium which can possibly reconcile these ancient
differences between the nobler wisdom which hath fixt her Palace in
Holy Writ and her stubborn handmaid, Naturall Reason: this happy
marriage of the Spirit and Soul, this wonderful consent of discords in
one harmony, we owe in great measure to Teutonicus his skill!"

The central problem of the _Discourse_, written by the brother, Charles
Hotham, is the origin of the soul.  After the manner of his German
teacher, the English disciple finds the origin of man's soul in "the
bottomless, immeasurable Abyss of the Godhead," in "the great deep of
the perpetually eternal God."  Man is an epitome of the universe.  He
unites in himself all the contrary principles of the worlds visible and
invisible, he is a unity of body and soul, a centre of light and
darkness, and in him is a "supreme region," or "Divine Principle," "by
the mediation of which man has direct fellowship with God."  In man,
who thus epitomizes all the spheres and principles of the universe,
"God, as in a glasse, hath a lively and delightful prospect of His own
lovely visage and incomprehensible Beauty."  Finally, again, the
disciple reflects the constant teaching of Boehme that everything in
the visible world is a symbol of a fundamental and eternal World.

Durant Hotham showed the full measure of his devotion to his German
master in the _Life of Jacob Behmen_ which he wrote in 1653.[6]  It is,
however, much more important for the insight which it gives of the
inner life of the Yorkshire Justice than for any biographical
information it furnishes of Boehme himself.  Hotham thinks that in
Boehme he has discovered a new type of Christian Saint--"one who led a
saint-like life in much sweet communion {212} with God," while he
declares that many of those who "get admission into the Calendar by the
synodical jurisdiction of those who claim also to hold the bunch of
keys to the bigger Heaven" are hardly ripe for canonization--"As for
many who in these last ages have termed themselves saints--what shift
God may make of them in heaven, I know not (He can do much)--but if I
may speak unfeignedly, they are so unmortified and untrue of word and
deed that they are found untoward members for a true Commonwealth and
civil Society here on Earth."[7]

The type of saint the Justice admires is one who refuses utterly to
choose the path of least resistance, one who will not be "a messenger
of eternal happiness at a cheap rate," but rather one who comes to
challenge the easy world, to fight evil customs and entrenched systems
and to win "the Land which the Devil holds in possession"; and, with
the name of Jacob Boehme, he thinks he can "begin a new roll of Civil
Saints," hoping, he says, that in these last generations "much company"
may be added to the bead roll thus happily started.

Two points stand out clearly as central ideas of Justice Hotham's
Christianity.  The first one is that religion is an inward affair.
"God," he declares, "hath sent this last Generation a plain, uncouth
Message, bidding man to fight, telling him that he shall have a Heaven,
a Joy, a Paradise, a Land, a Territory, a Kingship--but that _all this
is in himself, the Land to be won is himself_."[8]  The second one is
that religion is a progressive movement, an unfolding revelation of
life.  "What a height of Presumption is it," he says, "to believe that
the Wisdom and fullness of God can ever be pent up in a Synodical
Canon?  How overweening are we to limit the successive manifestations
of God to a present rule and light, persecuting all that comes not
forth in its height and breadth!"  It is through this "unnatural
desire" to keep Christians in "a perpetual infancy" that "our dry
nurses" in the Church have "brought us to such a dwarfish stature,"
{213} and he prays that the merciful God may teach at least one nation
a better way than that of "muzzling" the bringer of fresh light.

Much more important, however, for the dissemination of Boehme's ideas
in England was the patient and faithful work of John Sparrow who, in
collaboration with his kinsman, John Ellistone, translated into English
the entire body of Boehme's writings, between the years 1647 and
1661.[9]  Sparrow was born at Stambourne in Essex in 1615.  He was
admitted to the Inner Court in 1633 and subsequently called to the Bar.
He was probably the author of a widely-read book, published in 1649,
under the title of _Mercurius Teutonicus_, consisting of a series of
"propheticall passages" from Boehme.[10]  His outer life was
uneventful; his inner life is revealed in his Introductions to the
Boehme Translations.  He begins his long series of Translations with
the testimony that the writings of this author have "so very much
satisfied" his own soul that he wants others to be partakers of the
same source of light, though he warns his readers that their own souls
must come by experience into the condition Boehme himself was in before
they can fully understand him.[11]  He is profoundly impressed, {214}
as his great contemporary, Milton, was, with the strange birth of new
sects "now sprung up in England," but he hopes that "goodness will get
the upper hand and that the fruits of the spirit will prevail," and his
mind "is led to think" that through Boehme's message, which has been
very beneficial in other nations, "our troubled, doubting souls in
England may receive much Comfort, leading to that inward Peace which
passeth all understanding, and that all disturbing sects and
heresies . . . will be made to vanish and cease."[12]

Sparrow was deeply impressed with two of Boehme's central ideas, and he
gives expression to them, in his own quaint and peculiar way, in almost
every one of his Introductions--(1) the idea that the visible is a
parable of the Invisible, and (2) the idea that God manifests Himself
within men.  In the very first of the Introductions both of these ideas
appear: "This outward world," he says, "is the best outward
looking-glasse to see whatever hath been, is, or shall be in Eternity,
and our own minds are the best inward looking-glasse to see Eternity
exactly in";[13] and he expresses the belief that any one who learns to
read all the work of God in the world without, and in the mind of man
within, will learn to know Him truly, will see Eternity manifested in
time, will discover that the mind of man is a centre of all mysteries,
and that heaven and hell are potentially in us, and he will be
convinced that God is in all things and all things are in God; that we
live in Him and that He lives in us.[14]

This second idea--that God can be found in the depth of man's soul--is
strongly emphasized in Sparrow's next Introduction, written in
1648--"_The Ground of what hath ever been lieth in man_."[15]  All that
is in the Scriptures has come out of man's experience and therefore can
now be grasped by us.  All that was in Adam lies in the ground and
depth of any man.  When the Apostle John wrote that there is an unction
which teacheth all things and leadeth into all truth, he did not
confine this possibility {215} to apostles, but intended to include all
men in the class of those who may be anointed, and all who know "what
is in man" realize that it is possible to attain to this inward and
apostolic guidance.[16]  In a passage of great boldness Sparrow goes in
his venturous faith in the inner Spirit as far as the young
Leicestershire preacher did who was starting out, the very year this
Introduction was written, to proclaim the message of the inward Light.
"The ground," he says, "of all that was in Adam is in us; for whatever
Ground lay in God, the same lieth in Christ and through Him it lieth in
us, for He is in us all.  And he that knoweth God in himself . . . may
well be able to speak the word of God infallibly as the holy men that
penned the Scriptures.  And he that can understand these things in
himself may well know who speaketh by the Spirit of God and who
speaketh his own fancies and delusions."[17]

In the Introduction to the _Mysterium magnum_, Sparrow returns to this
idea of inward illumination, though he balances it better than he did
in the former Introduction, with his estimation of "the antient Holy
Scriptures," and he does not again suggest that present-day men speak
"infallibly."  He thinks that the same God who so eminently taught
Moses by His Spirit that he could describe the processes of creation,
must have also prepared the people by the instruction of the same
Spirit, so that they could understand what was written, and so that the
Spirit in one man could verify itself in the experience of many men.
He declares that when the Scriptures instruct and perfect the man of
God, they are effective, "not as a meer relation of things done," but
as the medium of the living Word which reaches the inward Man, the
hidden Man of the heart, the Christ in us, so that we pass beyond "the
history of Christ" and rise to "the experience that Christ is born
within us."[18]

No other book, he says, but the Scriptures, teaches {216} man "with
assured knowledge of all the things which concern the soule, the
eternal part of man," for other writers have written from the
observation of their outward senses, but these writers had "inward
senses--their eyes saw, their ears heard, their hands handled the Word
of Life."  And yet for those in these days who can "look through the
vayle or shell within which the Eternal Spirit works its Wonders," the
visible things of the world prove to be "a glasse wherein the
similitude of spirituall things are represented" and "the Minde of man
is a most clear and undeceiving glasse wherein we may perceive the
motions and activities of that Work-Master, the Spirit who hath created
everything in the world."[12]  In the most satisfactory of all his
Introductions, the one to the _Aurora_ in 1656, he undertakes to show
that "the Light within" which has now arisen in England is not a
substitute for the Christ of history.  On the contrary, he insists that
the Christ within and the Christ of history is one and the same Person
who is not divided.  He was once manifested in the likeness of sinful
flesh, suffering, dying, rising, ascending in glory, and now, in an
inward and spiritual manner, He is actually present within men so that
they may become conformable in soul and spirit to Him and share in His
life, sufferings, death, resurrection and glory, or they may, by their
own choice, crucify Him afresh within themselves.[20]  The Word of Life
calls loudly within every man, urging the soul to forsake that which it
perceives to be evil and to embrace that which it perceives to be good
and holy and divine.  This, he says, is the Eternal Gospel, and it
brings to all men everywhere the good news that we live and move and
have our being in God, and that the soul that gropes in sincerity after
God will find Him, for He is very nigh, even in the heart of the
seeker.[21]  He deals in an interesting way with the important
contemporary problem--raised by the prevalence of the emphasis on an
inward Divine Presence--whether human Perfection is possible in this
life.  His {217} conclusion is that the tendency to sin remains so long
as "the mortal body" lasts.  No person will ever reach a stage of
earthly life in which the spur of the flesh is eradicated, and so no
person can be infallibly certain that he is beyond sin, but when Christ
is inwardly united to the soul and His Spirit dwells in us and reigns
in us and we are risen in soul, spirit, and mind with Him, then we live
no longer after the flesh, or according to its thrust and push, but
share His life and partake of the conquering power of His Spirit; and
thus, though "sown in imperfection we are raised in perfection."[22]
The important matter, however, is not that one call himself a
"Perfectist," but that he actually live "in this earthly pilgrimage and
in this vale of sinfull flesh" in the power of Eternity and by the
Light of Christ, whose fulness may be revealed in himself.[23]

John Ellistone, Sparrow's kinsman and able helper in the work of
bringing Boehme into English thought, holds the same fundamental ideas
as his co-labourer, though he has his own peculiar style and his own
unique way of uttering himself.  The stress of his emphasis is always
on first-hand experience--what he calls "an effectual, living,
essential knowledge and real spiritual being of it in one's own
soul";[24] and the brunt of his attack is {218} always against a
religion of "notions"--what he calls "verball, high-flowne, contrived
knowledge and vapouring Notions," constructed from "the mental idolls
of approved masters."[25]  Religion, he maintains, can no more consist
of "the letter" or of "a talkative historicall account" than music can
consist of a row of written notes.  These things are only signs for the
direction of the skilful musician who must himself _make_ the sounds on
his instrument before there is any music.  So, too, if there is to be
any real religion in the world, we Christians must do more than read
and approve "the deciphered writings of illuminated men," we must act
by the same Spirit that inspired those men, we must be "practitioners
of the Divine Light," we must give "living expression to Divine love
and righteousness," we must "practice the way of regeneration in the
Spirit of Christ and _divinitize our knowledge into an effectual
working love and attaine the experimental and essential reality of it
in our owne soules!_"[26]  The way out of "the tedious Maze and
wearisome laborinth of discussions and opinions concerning God, Christ,
Faith, Election, the Ordinances and the Way of Worship" is "to know the
Word of Life, Light and Love experimentally," to have "the fire of His
love so enkindled in our own hearts that it may breake forth in our
practice and conversation to the destroying of all Thornes and tearing
Bryars of vaine contentions!"[27]

Like his kinsman, he has endless faith in the possibility of man; he
thinks that the entire Scripture directs us to the Word within us, and
that the Book of all mysteries is within ourselves.  "In our owne
Book," he says, "which is the Image of God in us, Time and Eternity and
all Mysteries are couched and contained, and they may be read in our
owne soules by the illumination of the Divine Spirit.  Our Minde is a
true mysticall Mirror and Looking-glasse of Divine and Naturall
Mysteries, and we shall receive more real knowledge from one effectuall
innate essentiall beame or ray of Light arising from the New Birth
within us than in reading many {219} hundreds of authors whereby we
frame a Babel of knowledge in the Nation."[28]

He goes so far with his faith in the soul's possibility to return into
"the Original Centre of all Reality" that he declares that a man may
sink deep enough into this Original Principle that binds his own soul
into union with God so that he can penetrate by an inner Light and
experience into the secret qualities and virtues hid in all visible and
corporeal things, and may learn to discover the healing and curative
powers of metals and plants, and may thus, by inward knowledge, advance
all Arts and Sciences.[29]

Ellistone returns to this inner way of arriving at a knowledge of
outward things in his Preface to _Signatura rerum_ in 1651.  Man, he
declares, is a microcosm, or abridgment, of the whole universe, he is
the emblem and hieroglyphic of Time and Eternity, and he who will take
pains to push in beyond Solomon's Porch, or the Outer Court of sense
and natural reason, to the Inner Court and Holy Place, where the
immortal Seed abides and where man can become one again with that which
he was in God before he became a creature, then he will have the key
that opens all mysteries both inner and outer.  Nature will be an open
Book of Parables in which he can read the truth of Eternity, the world
will be a clear mirror in which he can see the things of the Spirit and
he will know what will cure both soul and body.  The "Depth of God
within the Soul," the Inner Light, is the precious Pearl, the
never-failing Comfort, the Panacea for all diseases, the sure Antidote
even against death itself, the unfailing Guide and Way of all

Here, then, were two very enthusiastic disciples of Boehme who took
their master's teaching very seriously, who on the whole grasped its
essential meaning, were possessed and penetrated by the _idea_ of a
deeper eternal world manifesting itself in the temporal, and who gave
their lives to the difficult task of making Boehme's message {220}
available to their own people and to their own perplexed age.  They
were not "occultists."  They did not run into enthusiastic vapourings,
nor did they strain after psychic experiences which would relieve them
of the stress and strain of achieving the goal of life through the
formation of balanced character and the practice of social virtues,
though, as we shall see, some of the readers of their translations took
the risky course, and ended in the fog rather than in the clear light.

The question has naturally been raised whether Boehme exercised any
direct influence upon the early Quaker movement.[31]  There is at
present no way of proving that George Fox, the chief exponent of the
movement, had actually read the writings of the Teutonic philosopher or
had consciously absorbed the views of the latter, but there are so many
marks of influence apparent in the _Journal_ that no careful student of
both writers can doubt that there was some sort of influence, direct or
indirect, conscious or unconscious.  The works of Boehme were, as we
have seen, all available in English, during the great formative period
of Fox's life, from 1647 to 1661.  There can be no question that they
were read by the serious _Seekers_ in the period of the Commonwealth.
Thomas Taylor, who was one of the finest fruits of the Seeker movement,
bears in 1659 a positive testimony to the spiritual value of Jacob
Bewman's (Behmen) writings.  Taylor received a letter from Justice
William Thornton of Hipswell in Yorkshire, warning him to beware of
"the confused Notions and great words of Jacob Bewman and such like
frothy scriblers."  Taylor replies: "For thy light expressions of Jacob
Bewman, I know in most things he speaks a Parable to thee yet, and so
his writings may well be lightly esteemed of by thee; but there is that
in his Writings which, if ever thy eye be opened, will appear to be a
sweet unfolding of the Mystery of God and of Christ, in divers
particulars, according to his Gift.  And therefore beware of speaking
Evil of that which thou {221} know'st not."[32]  We have also seen how
Boehme appealed to such noble Seekers as Charles and Durant Hotham,
John Sparrow, and John Ellistone.[33]  One Quaker of some importance,
Francis Ellington, not only read the writings of Boehme, but regarded
"that Faithful Servant Jacob Behme" as "a Prophet of the Lord."[34]  He
quotes from his German "Prophet" the words: "A Lilly blossometh to you
ye Northern Countries; if you destroy it not with sectarian contention
of the learned, then it will become a great Tree among you, but if you
shall rather contend than to know the true God, then the Ray passeth by
and hitteth only some; and then afterwards you shall be forced to draw
water for the thirst of your souls among strange nations."  Ellington
regards Boehme as a genuine "prophet," and the "Lilly" that was to
blossom in the North seems to Ellington plainly to be George Fox and
his Quaker Society, which the learned have tried in vain to overthrow.
He cites many passages from the Teutonic Prophet of the Lord to show
the parallelism between the prophesied type of spiritual religion and
the Children of the Light who have exactly fulfilled it.[35]

It would be natural to expect that the young Quaker seeker, eager for
any light on his dark path, would read the _Forty Questions_ and _The
Three Principles of the Divine Essence_, or at least that he would hear
them discussed by the people among whom he moved in these intense and
eventful years.  In any case there are ideas expressed and experiences
described in the _Journal_ which look strangely like memories,
conscious or subconscious, of ideas and experiences to be found in the
Boehme writings.  The most striking single passage is one which
describes an experience which occurred to Fox in 1648.  It is as
follows: "Now was I come up in Spirit through the flaming sword into
the paradise of God.  All things were {222} new; and all the Creation
gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter.  I
knew nothing but pureness and innocency and righteousness, being
renewed into the image of God by Jesus Christ, to the state of Adam
before he fell.  The creation was opened to me; and it was showed me
how all things had their names given them, according to their nature
and virtue.  I was at a stand in my mind, whether I should practise
physic for the good of mankind, seeing the nature and virtue of things
were so opened to me by the Lord. . . .  The admirable works of
creation and the virtues thereof may be known through the openings of
that divine Word of Wisdom and power by which they were made."[36]

Jacob Boehme had, as we have seen, a similar experience of having "the
nature and virtues of things opened" to him in the year 1600.  The
following account of it was given in Sparrow's Introduction to _Forty
Questions_, printed in 1647: "He went forth into the fields and there
perceived the wonderful or wonder works of the Creator in the
signatures, shapes, figures, and qualities or properties of all created
things very clearly and plainly laid open.  Whereupon he was filled
with exceeding joy."  The same incident is told in a slightly different
way in Justice Hotham's _Life of Behmen_: "Going abroad into the
Fields, to a Green before Neys-Gate, at Gorlitts, he there sate down,
and viewing the Herbs and Grass of the Field, in his Inward Light he
saw into their essences, use and properties."  It was, further, a
fundamental idea of Boehme's that the outward and visible world is a
parable and symbol of the spiritual world within, and that by a
spiritual experience which carries the soul down to the inner, hidden,
abysmal Centre, the secrets and mysteries of the outward creation may
become revealed.  Hotham says that Boehme, by his divine Light, "beheld
the whole of creation, and from that Fountain of Revelation wrote his
book _De signatura rerum_."[37]  Ellistone, in the Introduction to
Boehme's _Epistles_, printed in 1649, predicts {223} that an
experience, like this one which Fox claimed, will come to those who
receive the inner Divine Light.  "This knowledge," he says, "must
advance all Arts and Sciences and conduce to the attainment of the
Universal Tincture and Signature, whereby the different secret
qualities and vertues that are hid in all visible and corporeall
things, as Metals, Minerals, Plants and Herbes, may be drawne forth and
applied to their right naturall use _for the curing and healing_ of
corrupt and decayed nature."[38]

It was also a feature of Boehme's teaching that man must enter again
into Paradise and return to the condition of the unfallen Adam.  "The
Noble Virgin" [_i.e._ Sophia or Spiritual Wisdom], Boehme writes,
"showeth us the Gate and how we must enter again into Paradise through
the sharpness of the sword," which, in a few lines previous, he calls
"the flaming sword which God set to keep the Tree of Life."[39]  Fox's
experience of the "new smell" of creation is an even more striking
parallel.  Mystic awakenings and spiritual openings generally impress
the recipient of them with a sense of new and fresh penetration into
the meaning of things and leave them with a feeling of heightened
powers, but cases in which the experience results in a new sense of
_smell_ are fairly rare.  Two persons might, no doubt, have such an
experience quite independently, but one who has become familiar with
the range of _suggestion_ in experiences of this type will note with
interest the large place which "new Smells and Odours" occupy in
Boehme's writings.  For example, he says, in the _Signatura rerum_,
where he describes the coming of the Paradise-experience: "When
Paradise springs up, the paradisaical joy puts itself forth with a
lovely smell,"[40] and in one of his Epistles he speaks of a spiritual
awakening in his own life that was marked by a new smell--"A very
strong Odour was given to me in the life of God."[41]

There is another passage in Fox's _Journal_, a few lines {224} beyond
this famous account of his Paradise-experience, that also bears the
mark of Boehme's influence.  In fact, it is difficult to believe that
Fox could have got his phraseology anywhere else than from Boehme.  The
passage reads: "As people come into subjection to the Spirit of God and
grow up in the Image and Power of the Almighty, they may receive the
_Word of Wisdom that opens all things, and, come to know the hidden
Unity in the Eternal Being_."[42]  Everywhere in Boehme it is "Sophia,
the Word of Wisdom," that "opens all things," and the goal of all
spiritual experience and of all divine illumination for him consists in
coming to "the hidden Unity in the Eternal Being, or the Eternal
Essence."  That is not a Biblical phrase, and it is not one which the
Drayton youth would have heard from native English sources.  It came to
England with the Boehme literature.  Further revelations along this
same line of "opening" follow in the _Journal_.  In the Vale of Beavor
the Lord "opened" things to Fox, relating to "the three great
professions in the world, physic, divinity and law."  "He showed me,"
Fox says, "that the physicians were out of the Wisdom of God by which
the creatures were made, and so knew not their virtue because they were
_out of the Word of Wisdom_."  He saw that the priests were actuated by
_the dark power_--a very suspicious phrase to one who knows what a
place the "Dark Principle" holds in Boehme's writings--and he saw that
the lawyers were out of the Wisdom of God.  But it was opened to him
that all these three professions might be "reformed" and "brought into
the Wisdom of God by which all things were created," and "have a right
understanding of the virtues of things through the Word of Wisdom"; for
"in the Light all things may be seen both visible and invisible."[43]
The extraordinary use of Old Testament figures, by which Fox
illustrates the condition of the Church, in the section of the
_Journal_ following the passages above quoted, is no less significant.
The figures of Cain and Esau, of Korah and Balaam, and the types of
Adam and Moses are given {225} quite in the style of _The Three
Principles_, or of the _Mysterium magnum_.[44]  One parallel is
especially interesting.  Fox says: "I saw plainly that none could read
Moses aright without Moses' spirit, by which Moses saw how man was in
the Image of God in Paradise, and how he fell and how death came over
him, and how all men have been under this death."[45]  The Preface to
_Mysterium magnum_ says: "I cannot but think that the same God that
taught Moses so eminently by His Spirit had so fitted the people for
whom he wrote that they were capable to receive instruction by his
words."[46]  This idea, so frequently expressed in the writings of Fox,
that no one can understand the Scriptures except by the Spirit that
gave forth the Scriptures,[47] is equally a fundamental idea of Boehme
and his English interpreters.  In many passages of the _Mysterium
magnum_ Boehme declares that the written word is only a witness to the
living Word, which latter Word can be understood only by those who are
in the Spirit that spoke in the Prophets and Apostles.[48]  Sparrow, in
his Introduction to the _Aurora_, declares that no person can
understand the spiritual mystery of redemption, "though he reade of it
in the Scriptures," unless the Holy Spirit in himself, the true Divine
Light, enlighten him, and give him the word of faith in his heart;
"neither," he adds, "can any understand the Holy Scriptures but by the
same Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Soul."[49]

On one occasion the Lord showed Fox the nature of things that are in
the human heart--"as the nature of dogs, swine, vipers, etc."[50]  So,
too, Boehme saw that there are many kinds of wild beast in man's
nature--the lion, the wolf, the dog, the fox, and the serpent.[51]  Fox
frequently speaks of the two "seeds"--the Seed of God or the Seed of
Christ and the seed of the serpent--and the victory of life in the
Spirit consists in having the Seed of God conquer the seed of the
serpent, or, as Fox {226} often expresses it, having "the Seed of God
bruise the serpent's head," or having "the Seed of God atop of the
devil and all his works"; or having "the Seed reign."[52]  This
phraseology runs throughout Boehme's writings.  The two "seeds" are
everywhere in evidence, and "the Treader on the serpent" is the
frequent name for Christ and for the victorious soul.  God showed Adam,
Boehme says, how "the Treader on the serpent" should once again be
brought with virtue and power up into the Paradise of God, and live
anew by the Word of God.[53]

Fox, in the account of his first great transforming opening in 1647,
says: "I knew God by revelation as one who hath the key doth open."[54]
This is a frequent figure in Boehme for a first-hand experience.
"Where is Paradise to be found?" he asks.  "Is it far away or is it
near?  One person cannot lend the key to another.  Every one must
unlock it with his own key or else he cannot enter,"[55] and again he
describes that "surpassing joy of the new regeneration," when the soul
"gets the keys of the kingdom of heaven and may open for itself."[56]

Fox's "openings" about university-trained ministers and his references
to "stone churches," or "churches of stone and mortar," have many
parallels in Boehme.  Dinah of the Old Testament, for example, is
"nothing else but a figure of our stone churches and our colleges with
their ministers!" and Jacob's concubine, again, "signifieth nothing
else but the stone churches in which God's word and testament are

Finally, Fox's great vision of an ocean of Darkness and an ocean of
Light, while no doubt a real experience and expressed in his own words,
is profoundly like Boehme's fundamental insight that there are two
world-principles of Light and Darkness, and that Light is, in the end,
victorious over Darkness.[58]

No attempt has been made to gather an exhaustive set {227} of parallels
between the experiences and ideas of these two religious teachers.
Enough, however, is presented to show that this spiritual leader in
England was distinctly a debtor to the Teutonic seer who died the same
year in which the former was born.  Fox himself never mentions Boehme
by name, nor does he ever refer to the little sect of "Behmenists,"
which, springing into existence contemporaneously with the birth of the
Quaker movement, had an interesting, though short-lived, history; but a
number of the followers of Fox went aggressively into the lists against
their puny rival.

The so-called "sect of Behmenists" is thus described by Richard Baxter:
"The fifth sect are the Behmenists whose opinions go much toward the
way of the former [the Quakers] for the sufficiency of the Light of
Nature, Inward Light, the salvation of the Heathen as well as
Christians, and a dependence on 'revelations.'  But they are fewer in
number, and seem to have attained to greater Meekness and conquest of
passions than any of the rest.  Their doctrines are to be seen in Jacob
Behmen's Books, by him that hath nothing else to do, than to bestow a
great deal of time to understand him that was not willing to be easily

"The chiefest" of this "sect of Behmenists," Baxter says, was Dr. John
Pordage.  Pordage was born in 1607; was curate in 1644 of St.
Lawrence's in Reading; was made rector of the Church in Bradfield late
in 1646; was charged in 1651 with heresies, comprised in nine articles,
consisting apparently of a sort of mystical pantheism.  He was at first
acquitted, but was later charged again with heresies on these nine
counts, with fifty-six more, and was deprived of his rectory in 1655.
He valiantly defended himself in a book with the title, _Truth
appearing through the Clouds of Undeserved Scandel_, and in other
publications, and after the Restoration he was reinstated.  As the
Behmenists were definitely attacked by the Quaker, John Anderdon, in
1661, it is to be inferred that they existed as a society at least as
early as the {228} Restoration, though the movement became much more
prominent in the 'seventies, when Pordage discovered a remarkable woman
named Jane Leade, and they "agreed to wait together in prayer and pure
dedication."  Jane Leade, whose maiden name was Jane Ward, was born of
a good English family in 1623.  She was a psychopathic child, and as a
young girl "heard miraculous voices" which led her to devote herself to
religion.  She became profoundly impressed with the writings of Boehme,
as Pordage had been still earlier, and under the _suggestion_ of
Boehme's experiences she received many "prophetic visions," which are
recorded in her spiritual Diary, _A Fountain of Gardens_.[60]  A few
instances of her experiences in the early stages will be of some value
to the reader.  She was visiting, she says, in April 1670, in a quiet,
retired place, and was "contemplating the happy state of the angelical
world, much exercised upon Solomon's choice, which was to find out the
Noble Stone of Wisdom."  "There came upon me an overshadowing bright
cloud, and in the midst of it the Figure of a woman, most richly
adorned with transparent gold, her hair hanging down, and her face as
terrible as chrystal for brightness, but her countenance was sweet and
mild.  At which sight I was somewhat amazed, and immediately this Voice
came, saying, Behold, I am God's Eternal Virgin, Wisdom, whom thou hast
been enquiring after.  I am to unseal the Treasures of God's deep
Wisdom unto thee. . . .  Wisdom shall be born in the inward parts of
thy soul."  Three days later, "the same Figure in greater Glory did
appear, with a crown upon her head, full of majesty, saying, Behold me
as thy Mother and know thou art to enter into covenant, to obey the
New-Creation laws that shall be revealed unto thee."[61]  In her
account of the following extraordinary experience there are many marks
of Boehme's influence: "I retained no strength, my Sun of Reason and
the Moon of my outward sense were folded up and withdrew.  I knew
nothing by myself, as {229} to those working properties from Nature and
Creature, and the wheel of the Motion standing still, another
[influence] moved from a central Fire, so that I felt myself transmuted
into one pure flame.  Then came that Word to me, 'This is no other than
the Gate to my Eternal Deep.'"[62]

Pordage's main contribution to the exposition of "Behmenism" was a book
published in 1683 and entitled, _Theologia Mystica, or the Mystic
Divinitie of the Eternal Invisibles_.  It is the work of a confused
mind, and its spiritual penetration, as also its mastery of the English
language, are of a low order.  The marks of Boehme's influence appear
everywhere in the book, though Pordage is quite incapable of
comprehending the more profound and robust features of Boehme's
philosophy.  What he relates professes to be what he himself has _seen_
in visions, or what he has heard from celestial visitants.  It has, he
says, been his privilege to taste much of that Tree of Life which grows
in the midst of the Paradise of God; to smell the difference between
heaven and hell; to have seen through the veil of nature into the
spiritual glory of eternity, to have felt "the distillations of
heavenly dew and secret touches of the Holy Ghost."  Unlike his
Teutonic master, he taught (and it was also the view of Jane Leade)
that in the end Divine Love transmutes evil into good and even hell
into Paradise.  One passage in his book, written in his best style,
will be sufficient to illustrate his glowing optimism: "Love is of a
transmuting and transforming Nature.  The great effect of Love is to
turn all things into its own Nature, which is all goodness, sweetness,
and perfection.  This is that Divine Power which turns Water into Wine,
Sorrow and Hellish Anguish into exulting and triumphing Joy; Curse into
Blessing; where it meets with a barren heathy Desart it transmutes it
into a Paradise of delights; yea, it changeth evil to good and all
imperfection into perfection.  It restores that which is fallen and
degenerated to its primary Beauty, Excellence and Perfection.  It is
{230} the Divine Stone, the White Stone with a Name written on it,
which none knows but him that hath it . . . the Divine Elixir whose
transforming power and efficacy nothing can withstand."[63]

His greater disciple, Jane Leade, "the enamoured woman-devotee of
Pordage," the main exponent of the Behmenist movement of this period,
was a far too voluminous writer.[64]  She was a sincere, pure-minded
woman, of intense devotion, but she was a strongly emotional type of
person, and lived in a kind of permanent borderland of visions and
revelations.  Her language, like that also of Pordage, is
ungrammatical, of involved style, and full of overwrought and fanciful
imagination.  Christopher Walton, who in many ways respected her, calls
her writings "a huge mass of parabolicalism and idiocratic
deformity!"[64]  In her _Message to the Philadelphian Society_ she
reports a curious vision from heaven which assures her that the Quakers
are not God's chosen people.  There pass in review before her
illuminated sight the various claimants to the lofty title of the true
Church, the real Bride of Christ.  There are Anabaptists, Fifth
Monarchy Men, and many others.  "Then," she says, "did I see a body
greater than any of these come up with great boldness, as deeming
themselves to have arrived to Perfection and so visibly distinguishing
themselves from all the rest, and I said, Now surely the anointed of
the Lord is before Him.  But a Voice said, Neither are these they; for
the Lord seeth not as man seeth."[66]

A third and intellectually far greater member of this group of
"Behmenists" was Francis Lee, a Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, a
student in Leyden University, and a man of splendid parts.  He became
acquainted with the movement while in Holland, and on his return home
sought out Jane Leade, became her adopted son, and, later, on the
strength of a "revelation" made to his {231} spiritual mother, he
married her daughter.  Until the time of Jane Leade's death in 1704, he
was her devoted disciple, writing for her in the period of her
blindness, and editing and publishing many of her books.  He was the
moving spirit in the formation of "the Philadelphian Society" for the
propagation of the mystical ideas of the followers of Boehme--a Society
which existed from 1697 to 1703, and which had a far-reaching influence
not only in England but still more on the Continent of Europe.[67]

John Anderdon, an interesting Quaker pamphleteer, born in 1624,
convinced of the Truth of the Quaker Message by the preaching of
Francis Howgil in 1658, and for many years a prisoner for his faith,
for which he finally died in prison, furnishes in his attack on the
"Behmenists" in 1661 the earliest data available for an estimate of
their views and practices.[68]  The writer has evidently read the works
of Jacob Boehme, or at least some of them, and he contends that the
"Behmenists" whom he is attacking have failed to understand the
writings of their master and have never fathomed "the tendencie of his
spirit": "The Conclusion which you have drawn to yourselves from his
Writings will not profit you; neither doth it make you any jot the more
excellent, that ye can talk much of him and his Books and Writings,
being not come to the right Spirit in which is life, which brings men
out of dead Forms."[69]

His main criticism of the little sect is that its members make use of
"Mediums and borrowed Instruments for the conveyance of God's Grace and
Virtue into the Soul,"[70] and that they have "not come to the Light
which gives {232} a true understanding of the things of God," though he
admits that there "was sometime" in them "a hungering and thirsting
after Righteousness."[71]  These "Mediums" are evidently the Water of
Baptism and the Bread and Wine of the Supper--"Ordinances," he says,
"as you call them."[72]  It would seem from this Quaker Pamphlet that
the "Behmenists" under review were much like the followers of Fox,
except only that they continued to use the sacraments.  This use of
"Mediums" seemed to him indicate that they were "out of the Light" and
"trying to _cover_ the serpent's head," instead of stamping on it, but
Anderdon would not have written his _Blow at Babel_ if he had not been
impressed with the general marks of likeness in other respects between
the "Behmenists" and his own people.

Another interesting Quaker document furnishes a glimpse of the
"Behmenists" a dozen years later--at about the period when John Pordage
and Jane Leade were beginning to "wait together in prayer and pure
meditation."  It is a Minute adopted by the London "Morning Meeting" of
Friends, "the 21st of ye 7th Month 1674."  The occasion for action was
the reception of "an Epistle to the Behminists," written by Ralph
Frettwell of Barbadoes, at an earlier period "one of the Chief Judges
of the Court of Common-pleas" in the island.  He had been stirred to
write for the same reason that impelled Anderdon, and his "Epistle"
called these partly spiritualized people, as he believed, to the fuller
Light, and warned them against the use of Baptism, and Bread and Wine,
and "the Pater Noster."  The Minute of the Morning Meeting, which opens
with the words: "Deare freind R. F. in the Truth that never changeth
but changeth all who believe and obey it," records the decision of the
Meeting not to publish the Epistle, "wee haveing well weighed it in the
feare of God and in tender Care of Truth."  The reason given in the
Minutes for not publishing the "Epistle" is, first, that "the writings
of J. B. reveal {233} a great mixture of light and darkness," and
indicate that he lived sometimes in the power of one and sometimes in
the power of the other, that God Himself has tried and judged the
Spirit of darkness, and that the Spirit of Light has already "come to
its own Centre and flows forth again purely"--presumably in the Quaker
movement.[73]  As the Lord Himself has given judgment and has given
victory to the Principle of the Light, the publication of the "Epistle"
is unnecessary.

And, secondly, Frettwell, in calling the "Behmenists" from "the use of
Mediums," admits that at an earlier period of his life, before he
received the full Light, he "received light and peace" through these
external things.  This seemed to the Meeting "too much giveing them
encouragement" to dwell in things which give "only drynesse and
barrenness," and they fear that "the ffoxes among them would take
advantage" of this aid and comfort.[74]  It would appear that the
gravamen of the Quaker attack on the little sect was the failure of its
members to dispense with sacraments.  At a later period, when the
"Philadelphian Society" was in full flower, an old-time pillar Quaker,
George Keith, then become a Churchman and "an apostate" in the eyes of
Friends, attacked the writings of Jane Leade on the ground that "she
wrote derogatory to the Humanity of Christ," _i.e._ the historical
Christ.  Francis Lee took up vigorously the defence, and told George
Keith that he himself had taught again and again the same principle of
inward Light and inward Religion, that he had never yet publicly
renounced these early ideas of his, and that he of all men ought to
understand the meaning of a Christ within and of a "Still Eternity."[75]

Traces of Boehme's influence appear in the terms and {234} ideas of
many English writers during the period under consideration, besides
those specifically mentioned.  Sir Isaac Newton read Boehme's books
with great appreciation and meditated upon those strange accounts of
the invisible universe which underlies and is in the visible world, but
we need not take too seriously the claim of the "Behmenists" that "he
was ploughing with Behmen's heifer" when he discovered the law of
universal gravitation![76]  Milton, without any doubt, had read the
German mystic's account of the eternal war between the Light Principle
and the Dark Principle, of the fall of Lucifer, of the loss of
Paradise, and of the return of man in Christ to Paradise, and there are
many passages in the great poet which look decidedly like germinations
from the seed which Boehme sowed, but we must observe caution in
tracing the origin of verses written by a poet of Milton's genius and
originality and range of knowledge.  One great Englishman of a later
period, William Law, unmistakably owed to Jacob Boehme the main
influences which transformed his life, and through the pure and lucid
style of this noble English mystic of the eighteenth century, Boehme's
insights found a new interpretation and a clearer expression than he
himself or any other interpreter had been able to give them.[77]

[1] "The Life of one Jacob Boehmen, who although he was a meane man,
yet wrote the most wonderful deepe knowledge in Naturall and Divine
Things, that any hath been known to doe since the Apostles' Times, and
yet never read them or learned them from any other man, as may be scene
in that which followeth."--London, 1644, printed by L. N. for Richard

[2] _Journal of George Fox_ (Cambridge edition, 1911), i. p. 18.

[3] Preface, A. 4.

[4] _Ibid._

[5] _Journ._ i. p. 29.

[6] _The Life of Jacob Behmen_, written by Durant Hotham, Esquire,
November 7, 1653.  Printed for H. Blunden, and sold at the Castle in
Corn Hill, 1654.

[7] _Life of Jacob Behmen_, B. 2.

[8] _Op. cit._ B. 2.

[9] The writings were translated in the following order: In 1647,
_Forty Questions_ by Sparrow; _The Clavis_, by Sparrow.  In 1648, _The
Three Principles_, by Sparrow; _The Way to Christ_ (including the
Treatises, _On True Repentance_; _On True Resignation_; _On
Regeneration_; _The Supersensual Life_; and _On Illumination_), by
Sparrow.  In 1649, _Of the Last Times_, by Sparrow; _Epistles of Jacob
Behmen_, by Ellistone.  In 1650, _The Three-fold Life_, by Sparrow.  In
1651, _De signatura rerum_, by Ellistone.  In 1652, _Christ's
Testaments_--Baptism and Supper,--by Sparrow.  In 1654, _The Mysterium
magnum_, by Ellistone and Sparrow; _A Table of the Divine
Manifestation_, by H. Blunden and Sparrow; _A Table of the Three
Principles_, H. Blunden and Sparrow; _An Epitome of the Three
Principles_, by Sparrow.  In 1655, _On Predestination_, by Sparrow; _A
Short Compendium on Repentance_, by Sparrow.  In 1656, _The Aurora_, by
Sparrow.  In 1659, _The Treatise on the Incarnation_, by Sparrow.  In
1661, _The Great Six Points_; _The Earthly and Heavenly Mystery_; _The
Four Complexions_; _Two Apologies to Tylcken_; _Considerations
concerning Stiefel's Threefold State of Man_; _An Apology concerning
Perfection_; _On Divine Contemplation_; _An Apology for the Books on
True Repentance and True Resignation_; _177 Theosophic Questions_; _The
Holy Week_; _25 Epistles_, by Sparrow.

[10] Sparrow refers to this book in his Introduction to _The Three
Principles_ as follows: "For a taste of the Spirit of prophecy which
the author [Boehme] had, there is a little treatise of some prophecies
concerning these latter times, collected out of his writings by a lover
of the Teutonic philosophy and entitled Mercurius Teutonicus."

[11] Introd. to _Forty Questions_.

[12] Introd. to _Forty Questions_.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Introd. to _The Three Princ._

[16] Introd. to _The Three Princ._

[17] Ibid.

[18] "To the Reader" in _Myst. mag._

[19] "To the Reader" in _Myst. mag._

[20] Preface to the Reader in _Aurora_.

[21] Preface for the _Aurora_.

[22] Preface for the _Aurora_.

[23] A contemporary of Sparrow, probably Samuel Pordage, wrote an
Encomium on Sparrow in the Introduction to a long Behmenite Poem called
_Mundorum explicatio_ (London, 1661).  The passage is as follows:

    "And learned Sparrow we thy praises too
    Will Sing; rewards too small for what is due,
    The Gifts of Glory and of Praise we owe:
    The English Behmen doth Thy Trophies show.
    Whilst Englishmen that great saint's praise declare,
    Thy Name shall join'd with his receive a share.
    The Time shall come when his great Name shall rise,
    Thy Glory also shall ascend the skies.
    Thou mad'st him English speak, or else what Good
    Had his works done us if not understood?
    To Germany they beneficial prove
    Alone: till we enjoyed them by thy Love.
    Their German Robes thou took'st from them, that we
    Their Beauties might in English Garments see.
    Thus has thy Love a vast rich Treasure showen,
    And made what was exotic now our own."

[24] Preface to Boehme's _Epistles_ (1649).

[25] Preface to Boehme's _Epistles_.

[26] _Ibid._

[27] _Ibid._

[28] Preface to _Epistles_.

[29] _Ibid._

[30] Preface to _Sig. re._

[31] This question was raised by Barclay in his _Inner Life of the
Religious Societies of the Commonwealth_ (London, 1879), pp. 214-215.

[32] Thomas Taylor's _Works_ (London, 1697), p. 86.

[33] The writings themselves constantly use the word "Seeker," and the
Introductions emphasize the Seeking attitude.

[34] _Christian Information Concerning these Last Times_, by F. E.
(London, 1664), pp. 10-11.

[35] _Op. cit._ pp. 11-12.

[36] _Journal_ (ed. 1901), 28.  Unfortunately the Cambridge Journal
does not contain any biographical incidents prior to 1652.

[37] Hotham's _Life_, D. 4.

[38] Preface to _Epistles_, p. 10.

[39] The _Three Princ._, trans. 1648, xx. 40-41.

[40] _Sig. re._ viii. 23.

[41] _Ep._ xv. 18.  For another passage on "the new smell," see _The
Three Princ._ iv. 27.

[42] _Journal_, i. p. 29.

[43] _Ibid._ i. pp. 29-30.

[44] See _Journal_, i. pp. 31-34.

[45] _Ibid._ i. p. 33.

[46] _Op. cit._ A.

[47] See, for specimen passages, _Journal_, i. pp. 36 and 124.

[48] See especially _Myst. mag._ xxxviii. sections 52-59.

[49] Preface to _Aurora_, B.

[50] _Journal_, i. p. 19.

[51] _Three Princ._ xvi. 31-37.

[52] See _Journal_, i. p. 13; pp. 190-191 and _passim_.

[53] _Three Princ._ iv. 5.  See also _ibid._ xv. 24; xvi. 42; and
xviii. 24.

[54] _Journal_, i. p. 12.

[55] _Three Princ._ ix. 25-26.

[56] _Ibid._ xix. 33.

[57] _Myst. mag._ lxii. 17 and lxiii. 36.

[58] See Fox's _Journal_, i. p. 19.

[59] _Reliquiae Baxterianae_ (London, 1715), i. 77.

[60] _A Fountain of Gardens_, 4 vols., London, 1696-1701.

[61] _Op. cit._ i. pp. 17-19.

[62] _A Fountain of Gardens_, p. 25.

[63] _Theologia mystica_, p. 81.

[64] Christopher Walton, in his _Notes and Materials_ (1854), gives a
list of eighteen of her books.

[65] _Ibid._ p. 238.

[66] _Op. cit._ p. 9.  Pordage disliked the Quakers and speaks
slightingly of them in _Theologia mystica_.  He also wrote a Treatise
against them.  See Walton, p. 203.

[67] Important material on this subject may be found in Walton's _Notes
and Materials_, especially pp. 188-258.

[68] The full title-page of Anderdon's book is as follows: _One Blow at
Babel_.  In those of the Pepole called Behemnites, whose Foundation is
not upon that of the Prophets and Apostles, which shall stand sure and
firm forever; but upon their own carnal conceptions, begotten in their
Imaginations upon Jacob Behmen's writings: They not knowing the better
part, the Teachings of that Spirit that sometime opened some Mysteries
of God's Kingdom in Jacob, have chosen the worser part in Esau,
according to the predominancy of that Spirit which ruled in them when
they made choice of their Religion, as it doth in others the hearts of
the children of disobedience.--By John Anderdon.  (London, printed in
the year 1662, written in 1661).

[69] _One Blow at Babel_, p. 3.

[70] _Ibid._ pp. 1 and 6.

[71] _One Blow at Babel_, pp. 1-2.

[72] Jane Leade's writings give great importance to the outward

[73] The use of the phrase "its own Centre," which became an important
Quaker term, is an interesting relic of Boehme's influence.

[74] _Minutes of the Morning Meeting_, i.  George Fox apparently asked
to see Frattwell's MS., for in a Letter under date of eighth mo. 1st,
1674, Alexander Parker writes to George Fox: "I likewise spoke to Edw.
Man [Edward Mann] to send down Ralph ffrettwells Book, I suppose he
intends to see thee shortly and if he can find ye Book to bring itt
with him."--_Journal_ (Cambridge edition), ii. p. 305.

[75] Walton's _Notes and Materials_, pp. 227 and 231.

[76] See Walton's _Notes and Materials_, pp. 3, 46, 72, and 404.

[77] William Law lies beyond the period to which this volume is
devoted.  It is customary to call the edition of Behmen's _Works_,
published 1764-1781, "William Law's Edition."  This is quite incorrect.
This edition is in the main a reprint of the earlier Translations by
Sparrow and Ellistone.  It was edited by George Ward, assisted by
Thomas Langcake, and printed at the expense of Mrs. Hutcheson, an
intimate friend of William Law.





The ideas developed by spiritual Reformers on the Continent were
brought into England by a great variety of carriers and over many
routes.  Some of the routes were devious and are difficult to trace,
but some of them, on the other hand, are obvious and easily found.  One
of the potent and pervasive intellectual influences for the formation
of the "spiritual" type of thought in England was the Platonic
influence which came to England through the Humanists.  This strand of
thought, inherited from the remote past, is woven into the inner
structure of all these interpreters of the divine Life.  The English
revival of Greek philosophy is closely connected with the work of the
early Italian Humanists, especially with that of the Florentine
scholar, Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), who was selected and educated by
Cosimo de Medici to be the head of the new Academy in Florence.  It was
a fixed idea of Ficino that Philosophy and Religion are identical, and
therefore that Religion, if it is true Religion, is rooted and grounded
in Reason, since God is the source of all Truth and all that is
rational.  Plato, in Ficino's eyes, is Philosophy.  He was the divine
forerunner of Christ in the realm of intellect as John the Baptist was
in the realm of the law.  In his mind Plato's Philosophy is the
greatest possible preparation for an adequate understanding of the
world of Truth which Christ has unveiled and of the way {236} of Life
which He has revealed.  Ficino translated Plato's Dialogues into Latin,
and gave his own interpretation of the great philosopher in a Treatise
on _Plato's Doctrine of Immortality of Souls_.  He also translated
Plotinus and the writings falsely attributed to Dionysius the
Areopagite, and put them anew into spiritual circulation.

Ficino, though living in an age of corruption and debauchery, and
though closely associated with Humanists who had hardly a thin veneer
of Christianity, and who were bent on reviving paganism, yet himself
maintained a positive Christian faith and a pure and simple life.  He
found it possible to be a priest in the Christian Church and at the
same time to be a high-priest in the temple of Plato, because he found
faith and reason to be indivisible and indissoluble.  His influence was
marked upon the early English Humanists, Linacre, Grocyn, Colet, and
More, and he was a vital influence in the new revival, which occurred
in the seventeenth century, of Plato and Plotinus as contributors to a
virile religion based upon an inherent divine and human relationship.

Still another influence, of a very different sort, came to England by
way of Italy--the intense interpretation of Faith as the way of
salvation, expressed in the writings of the Spanish reformer, Juan de
Valdès, and in the powerful sermons of his two Italian disciples,
Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564) and Pietro Martire Vermigli (1500-1562),
generally known as Peter Martyr.  Juan de Valdès, twin brother of the
Humanist, Alfonso de Valdès, the friend of the Emperor Charles V., was
born of a distinguished Castilian family toward the end of the
fifteenth century.  He was splendidly prepared in his youth, both
mentally and religiously, for the great work of his life, which was to
be a spiritual mover of other souls.  As his views of the needed
transformation of Christianity broadened and intensified he concluded
that he would be safer in Italy than in Spain, and he thus took up his
residence in Naples in 1529.  Here he became the centre of a remarkable
circle of spiritual men and women who were dedicating themselves to the
reform of the Church and to the {237} propagation of a more vital
religion.  Ochino, the most powerful Italian preacher of the age; the
fervent scholar, Vermigli; the papal secretary, Carnesecchi, later a
martyr to the new faith; Vittoria Colonna, the friend of Michael Angelo
Buonarotti, and the beautiful Giulia Gonzaga, were among those who
kindled their torches from his burning flame.  For the instruction of
his friends--especially for Giulia Gonzaga--de Valdès translated St.
Paul's Epistles to the Romans and Galatians and wrote commentaries on
them, and contributed the penetrating original works, _The Christian
Alphabet_ and _The Hundred and Ten Divine Considerations_.[1]

These writings present in vivid and powerful style the way of salvation
through Faith.  The primary insight is Lutheran, but it is everywhere
coloured and tempered by the author's Humanistic outlook.  He insists,
in all his interpretations of salvation, upon the vital interior work
of the Holy Spirit and upon the necessity of re-living the Christ-life
in all its heights and depths.  All the truths of religion, he
constantly urges, must be known and verified in experience, and those
who are to be effective ministers of the Gospel in any age must know
that they are divinely sent and must be taught by the inward Word of
God rather than by human science.  The attractive power of the Cross is
rediscovered in his profound experience and makes itself felt as the
dynamic principle of his entire moral activity.

The _Divine Considerations_ was put into English by Nicholas Ferrar
(1592-1637) of Little Gidding, and published at Oxford in 1638,
together with the Introduction to the _Commentary on Romans_, under the
name of "John Valdesso."  The English translation was submitted by
Ferrar to his friend, George Herbert, who wrote some interesting
critical notes which were printed with the original edition.  George
Herbert expresses his great love for "Valdesso," whose eyes, he says,
God has opened, even in the midst of Popery, "to understand and
expresse so clearly {238} and excellently the intent of the Gospell in
the acceptation of Christ's righteousness," but he "likes not" his
slighting of Scripture and his use of the Word of God for inward
revelation.  He believed, though wrongly, that de Valdès was a
"mystic," and that he was advocating a religion of "private enthusiasms
and revelations."  The fact was rather that de Valdès was presenting or
was aiming to present a religion of universal validity, brought to
birth by the discovery of God in Christ as revealed in the Gospel, and
made continuously effective anew by personal experience of the same
Christ as Divine Revealer in the lives of men.

There is no question of the far-reaching influence of Ferrar's
translation of this vital message of de Valdès, especially among
scholars and literary men.  It must also have had a popular influence,
for Samuel Rutherford in 1648 declared it to be one of the "poysonable"
sources of "Familisme, Antinomianisme, and Enthusiasme."[2]  He charges
that "Waldesso," as he calls him, teaches men that the Scriptures have
been supplanted by the inner Light, in fact that "Scripture shines only
as a light in a dark place until the Day-star arises in the heart, and
that then man hath no more need to seeke that of the holy Scripture
which departs of it selfe, as the light of a candle departs when the
Sunne-beames enter, even as Moses departed at the presence of Christ
and the Law at the presence of the Gospel."[3]

Ochino and Vermigli spent six important years in England from 1547 to
1553, when persecution under Mary forced them to flee.  They were far
more under the influence of Calvin at this period than under that of
their former friend de Valdès, but they both with the fire and
intensity of their Italian nature--especially Ochino in his
sermons--drove home to the hearts and consciences of their hearers the
way of salvation by faith and the absolute necessity of inner
experience and interior religion.



Dr. John Everard of Clare College, Cambridge, was clearly one of the
earliest and one of the most interesting carriers of these ideas, and
in his case it is not difficult to discover the influences which shaped
the course of his thought and suggested the general lines of his
message.  He was born about 1575--the birth year of Jacob
Boehme--though all early biographical details are lacking.  He had a
long student period at Clare College, receiving his degree of B.A. in
1600, M.A. in 1607, and D.D. in 1619.  He was deeply versed in the
great mystics, and always reveals in his sermons the influence of
Plotinus and Dionysius the Areopagite, and no less the influence of
Eckhart, Tauler, and the _Theologia Germanica_.  But at some period of
his life he tapped a new source and came into possession of a fresh
group of live and suggestive ideas which influenced all the thinking of
his later stage.  His translations, some of which are in MS. and some
in printed form, furnish a clue to the main sources of his ideas, which
present a striking parallelism with those held by the continental
spiritual Reformers of the sixteenth century.  He was possessed of
original power and of penetrating insight, with "eyes of his own," but
no one can fail to see that he had read and pondered the writings of
these submerged Reformers, and that in a country remote from theirs he
has become a reincarnation of their ideas and a new voice for their

His public career, in the England of the first two Stuarts, was a
stormy one.  He was Rector of St. Martin-in-the-Field.  In the early
stage of his preaching he felt called upon to oppose the "Spanish
Marriage" as "the great sin of matching with idolaters," and he
underwent a series of imprisonments for his attacks upon this precious
scheme of King James, who wittily suggested changing his name from Dr.
Everard ["Ever-out"] to "Dr. Never-out."  Some time before his fiftieth
year--the date cannot be exactly fixed--he reached {240} his new and
deeper insight, and henceforth became the bearer of a message which
seemed to him and to his friends like the reopening of the treasury of
the Gospels, and in this new light he felt ashamed of the barren period
of his life when he walked in "the ignorance of litteral knowledge,"
when he was "a bare, literal, University preacher," as he himself says,
and had not found "the marrow and the true Word of God."[4]  The great
change which cleaves his public career into two well-defined parts is
impressively indicated by his friend and disciple, Rapha Harford, in
his "Dedicatory Epistle" to the Sermons and in his preface "to the
Reader," though he nowhere gives any light upon the events and
influences which initiated the transformation.  "In a special and
extraordinary manner God appeared to him in his latter days," Harford
says, "and after that, he desired nothing more than to bring others to
see what he saw and to enjoy what he enjoyed."[5]  He was, we are told,
"a man of presence and of princely behaviour" and was known "as a good
philosopher, few or none exceeding him," "endowed with skill and depth
of learning," but after his new experience, when he "came to know
himself," and to "know Jesus Christ and the Scriptures _experimentally_
rather than grammatically, literally or academically," he came to
esteem lightly "notions and speculation," "letter-learning" and
"University-knowledge," and he "_centred his spirit_ on union and
communion with God" and turned his supreme interest from "forms,
externals and generals" to the cultivation of "the inner man," and to
"acting more than talking."[6]

His new way of preaching--vivid, concrete, touched with subtle humour,
grounded in experience and filling old texts with new meaning--appealed
powerfully to the common people and to an elect few of the more highly
privileged who had won a large enough freedom of spirit to go with him
into new paths.[7]  Like his Master, he loved {241} the common people,
"thinking it no disparagement to accompany with the lowest of men,"
"tinkers, coblers, weavers and poor beggarly fellows who came running"
to hear him, and he poured out the best he had in his treasury to any,
even the simplest and most ordinary, who cared to hear of this
"spiritual, practical experiment of life."  His preaching naturally
brought him suffering and persecution.  He was "often fetched into the
High Commission," was forced to give "attendance from Court to Court
and from Term to Term," was on one occasion fined a thousand pounds for
his "heresies," and had many interviews with Archbishop Laud, but he
always held that "Truth is strongest," and he declared that God had
called him to be "a Sampson against Philistines and a David against the
huge and mighty Goliath of his times,"[8] and he was ready to pay the
cost of obedience to the Light.  His friend, Harford, who had "much
ado" to keep the manuscript of his sermons "out of the Bishop's
fingers," declares that though Everard clearly "distinguished the
outward and killing letter from the Life and Spirit of the Holy Word,"
he was not an antinomian or in sympathy with ranterism.  "Our author,"
the Dedicatory Epistle says, and says truly, "missed both rocks against
which many have split their vessels.  He carries Truth amain with
Topsail set.  He cuts his way clear between the meer Rationalist who
will square out God according to his Reason, and the Familist who lives
above all ordinances and by degrees hath turned licencious Ranter."
Thomas Brooks added to Harford's Testimony a brief "Approbation" to the
Volume, on Behalf of the Publishers, recommending all readers to
receive its "heaven-born truths" into their homes and into their
hearts, assuring them that as they read and open their inner eyes they
will find their own hearts in the book and the book in their own
hearts, _i.e._ the book will "find them."

Before turning to Everard's message, as it finds expression in the rare
volume of his sermons--_The Gospel Treasures Opened_--we must consider
the Translations {242} which he left unpublished.  They are preserved
in clearly written manuscripts in Cambridge University Library, under
the title "Three Bookes Translated out of their Originall."[9]  The
first "Book" bears the following title-page: "The Tree of Knowledge of
Good and Evil, And the Tree of Life in the Midst of the Paradise of
God: Taken out of a Book called The Letter and the Life, or The Flesh
and the Spirit.  Translated by Dr. Everard."  An interesting article on
Dr. Everard in _Notes and Queries_[10] concludes that this first "Book"
of Everard's is a free translation of the Second Part of Tentzel's
_Medicina diastica_.  This guess, however, proves to be incorrect,
though there is a slight likeness between Tentzel's book and the
English MS. Everard's book is, in reality, a translation of Sebastian
Franck's _Von dem Baum des Wissens Gutes und Böses_ ("Of the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil").  The translation is made from a Latin
edition of Franck's little book, which was published in 1561.  The
entire message of this treatise, written by the wandering chronicler
and spiritual prophet of Germany, and here reproduced in English, is
the _inwardness_ of everything that concerns the religious life.  The
Tree of Life was in Adam's heart, and in that same inner region of the
soul was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The story of
Paradise is a graphic parable of the soul's experience.  "That Tree
which tested Adam was and is nothing else in truth but the Nature,
Will, Knowledge, and Life of Adam, and every man is as much forbidden
to eat of this Tree as Adam was."  Franck's significant book contained
passages from Hans Denck's _Widerruf_ ("Confession"), and Everard
translated them as an appendix to his first manuscript book.[11]  They
hold the very heart of Denck's message and deal, with Denck's usual
sincerity and boldness, with the fundamental nature of spiritual
religion.  He here declares the primacy of the Word of God in the soul
over everything else that ministers to man's life: "I prefer the Holy
Scriptures before all Humane {243} Treasure; yet I do not so much
esteem them as I do the Word of God which is living, potent, and
eternal, and which is free from all elements of this world: For that is
God Himself, Spirit and no letter, written without pen or ink, so that
it can never be obliterated.  True Salvation is in the Word of God; it
is not tied up to the Scriptures.  They alone cannot make a bad heart
good, though they may supply it with information.  But a heart
illumined with the Light of God is made better by everything."  Franck
declares, in comment on Denck's words: "I myself know at least twenty
Christian Religions all of which claim to rest on the Holy Scriptures
which they apply to themselves by far-fetched expositions and
allegories, or from the dead letter of the text. . . .  They can be
understood rightly, however, only by the divine new-man, who is
God-born, and who brings to them the Light of the Holy Spirit."  There
can be no doubt, I think, that Dr. Everard found in the writings of
these two sixteenth-century prophets the body and filling of his own
new conceptions of Christianity, and it was through his vigorous
interpretations that this stream of thought first flowed into England.

It will not be necessary to make extended comment on Everard's other
translations.  The second one was "The Golden Book of German
Divinitie," rendered into English in 1628 from the Latin edition of
"John Theophilus," who is Sebastian Castellio, and the third is a
translation of Nicholas of Cusa's _De visione Dei_ ("The Vision of
God"), which is a profound and impressive piece of mystical literature
and deserves to be much better known than it is.  Everard, further,
translated the "Mystical Divinity" of Dionysius the Areopagite,
selections from John Tauler and Meister Eckhart, and "The Divine
Pymander [Poemander] of Hermes Trismegistus"--a book which nearly all
the spiritual Humanists ranked in the very first list of religious

We must now turn to Everard's message as it is {244} presented in his
Sermons, and endeavour to discover what he told the throngs of people
who came gladly to hear him in the Kensington Meetings and the
gatherings at Islington.  The central emphasis in every sermon is on
personal experience, or, as we should phrase it to-day, on a religion
of life and reality.  He has had his own "scholastic" period, but he
looks back on it as a passage across an arid desert, and he feels a
mission laid upon him to call men everywhere away from a religion of
"notions and words"[13] to a religion of first-hand experience and
inwardly felt realities.  Unless we know Christ, he says,
experimentally so that "He lives within us spiritually, and so that all
which is known of Him in the Letter and Historically is truly done and
acted in our own souls--until we experimentally verify all we read of
Him--the Gospel is a meer tale to us."  It is not saving knowledge to
know that Christ was born in Bethlehem but to know that He is born in
us.  It is vastly more important to know experimentally that we are
crucified with Christ than to know historically that He died in
Jerusalem many years ago, and to feel Jesus Christ risen again within
you is far more operative than to have "a notional knowledge" that He
rose on the third day.  "When thou begins to finde and know not merely
that He was conceived in the womb of a virgin, but that _thou_ art that
virgin and that He is more truly and spiritually, and yet as really,
conceived in thy heart so that thou feelest the Babe beginning to be
conceived in thee by the power of the Holy Ghost and the Most High
overshadowing thee; when thou feelest Jesus Christ stirring to be born
and brought forth in thee; when thou beginnest to see and feel all
those mighty, powerful actions done in thee which thou readest that He
did in the flesh--here is a Christ indeed, a real Christ who will do
thee some good."[14]


To have Christ born in the soul means also to "do the deeds of Christ,"
to grow and increase toward perfection as His life is more fully
manifested in us, to be able to say as we read of divine events, "This
day is this Scripture fulfilled in me," and to see Christ work all His
miracles before our eyes to-day.  It is the "key of experience" which
unlocks all the drawers and cabinets and hidden and secret doors of
Scripture.[15]  We can discover, as we read, that there are whole
armies of Philistines in us to be overcome, that there are Goliaths to
be slain, and that there are Promised Lands to be won.[16]  "When thou
hast seen God and found Him for thyself; then thou mayest say: Now I
believe, not only because it is written in Genesis, but because I have
felt it and seen it written and fulfilled in mine own soul."[17]  "Men
should not so much trouble themselves," he says to those who are
expecting a "Fifth Monarchy," "about a personal reign of Christ here
upon earth, if they saw that the chief and real fulfilling of the
Scriptures were _in them_; and that, whatever is externally done in the
world or expressed in the Scriptures, is but typical and
representative, and points out a more spiritual _saving_, and a more
divine fulfilling of them."[18]

In almost the same figures used by Sebastian Franck he contrasts the
letter and the Spirit, the outward and the inward, the word of the
written Book and the living Word of God.  This contrast is carefully
worked out in four sermons, preached at Kensington, on "The Dead and
Killing Letter, and the Spirit and the Life."  Here he insists, often
in quaint and curious phrases, that the Old Testament, "from the first
of Genesis to the last of the Prophets," is an allegory, "woven like a
beautiful tapestry" to picture forth to the eye a history whose real
meaning is to be found within the soul; if you dwell upon it only as
picture, only as history, it is a letter that kills; if you see your
own selves in it and by it, then it gives life.[19]  You may learn the
whole Bible by heart and speak to any point in divinity according to
text and letter, and yet know {246} nothing of God or of spiritual
life.[20]  "If you be always handling the letter of the Word, always
licking the letter, always chewing upon that, what great thing do you?
No marvel you are such starvelings!"[21]  The letter is the husk; the
Word, the Spirit, is the kernel; the letter is the earthen jar, the
Spirit is the hidden manna; the letter is the outer court, the Spirit
is the inner sanctuary; the letter is the shadow, the Spirit is the
substance; the letter is the sheath, the Spirit is the sharp two-edged
sword; the letter is the hard encasing bone that must be broken, the
Spirit is inward marrow which nourishes the soul; the letter is
temporal, the Word is eternal[22]--"if ye once know the truth
experimentally after the Spirit ye will no longer make such a stir
about Forms, Disciplines, and Externals as if that were the great and
only Reformation!"[23]  The real difficulty, the true cause of
spiritual dryness, is that "men strive and contend so much for the
letter and the external part of God's worship, that they neglect the
inward and internal altogether; for where is the man who is so zealous
and hot for the internal as he is for the external.  If we press men to
the inward before the outward, or do as I do, lift up that; either how
cold and heartless they are, or else how quarrelsome and malicious they
are!"[24]  When once the inward core of things has been grasped and the
transforming experience has occurred, making a new man--freed,
illuminated, sin-delivered, with "God the Life of the life and the Soul
of the soul"[25]--the outward forms and the external things will fall
into the right perspective and will receive their proper emphasis.
Imitating St. Augustine's great saying: "Love God absolutely and then
you may do as you please," Everard says, "Turn the man loose who has
found the living Guide within him, and then let him neglect the outward
if he can; just as you would say to a man who loves his wife with all
tenderness, 'you may beat her, hurt her or kill her, if you want

The conception of God which forms the foreground of {247} all Everard's
teaching is one perfectly familiar to those that have studied the great
mystics who have formed their ideas under the direct or indirect
influence of Plotinus.  The conception is, of course, not necessarily
mystical--it is rather a recurring type of metaphysics--but it has
peculiarly suited the mystical mind and is often regarded by Christian
historians as synonymous with mysticism.  God, for Everard as for
Dionysius and for Eckhart, Tauler, and Franck, is unknowable,
unspeakable, unnamable, abstracted from all that is created and
visible, an absolute One, alone of all beings in the universe able to
say "I am," since He alone is Perfect Reality; but just for that reason
He is unrevealable in His inmost nature to finite beings and incapable
of manifestation through anything that is finite.[27]

He is a permanent and unchanging Substance; all things that are visible
are but shadow and appearance, are like bubbles in the water which are
now here and now gone.[28]  Every created and finite thing,
however--from a grain of sand to a radiant sun and from a blade of
grass to the Seraph that is nearest God--is a beam or a ray or
expression of that eternal Reality, is an angel or messenger that in
some minute, or in some glorious fashion, reveals God in space and
time; and all created things together, from the lowest to the highest,
from the treble of the heavenly beings to the base of earthly things,
form "one mighty sweet-tuned instrument," sending forth one harmonious
hallelujah to the Creator and revealing a single organic universe,
"acted and guided by one Spirit"--the Soul of all that is.[29]  "Ask
the craggy mountains what part they sing, and they will tell you that
they sing the praise of the immutableness and unchangeableness of God;
ask the flowers of the field what part they sing, and they will tell
you they sing the wisdom and liberality of God who cloathes them beyond
Solomon in all his glory; ask the sun, moon and stars what part they
sing, and they will say the constancy of God's promises, that they hold
their course and do not alter it; ask the poor received sinner {248}
what part he sings, and he will tell you he sings the infinite free
mercy of a most gracious Father; and ask the wicked, obstinate sinner
what part he sings, and he will tell you he sings the praise of the
patience and justice of God."[30]

In a very striking passage, Everard points out how the beings nearest
in order to God are most free of matter and imperfection, while those
lower in hierarchical scale are increasingly more material: "God is a
pure Spirit, only Form without any manner of matter; and all the
Creatures, the further off from Him, the more matter [they have] and
the nearer the less.  For example, Angels are pictured with complete
_bodies_; yet to show they are further off from matter than men,
therefore they have always wings.  And Arch-angels, they being nearer
the Nature of God than Angels, are pictured _with bodies cut off by the
middle with wings_.  But Cherubims, having less matter and nearer God
Himself than either, are pictured _only with heads and wings, without
bodies_.  But Seraphims, being farthest off from man and nearest of all
to God, _have no bodies nor heads nor wings at all_ but [are] only
represented _by a certain yellowish or fiery Colour_."[31]

We ourselves, we men, are both finite and infinite.  We have come from
an infinite source, and even in our apparent finiteness and
independence we still remain inwardly joined to that central Reality.

He tells this in his parable of the water-drops: "Suppose two
water-drops reasoning together, and one says to the other,

'Whence are we?  Canst thou conceive whence we are?  Dost thou know
either whence we come or to whom we belong, or whither we shall go?
Something we are, but what will in a short time become of us, canst
thou tell?'  And the other drop might answer, 'Alas, poor fellow-drop,
be assured we are nothing, for the sun may arise and draw us up and
scatter us and so bring us to nothing.'  Says the other again, 'Suppose
it do, for all that, yet we are, we have a being, we are something.'

'Why, what are we?' saith the other.


'Why, brother drop, dost thou not know?  We, even we, as small and as
contemptible as we are in ourselves, yet we are members of the Sea;
poor drops though we be, yet let us not be discouraged: _We belong to
the vast Ocean_.'"[32]

The way back to this infinite Ocean from which we have come and in
which we belong is through the tiny rivulet, the narrow inlet, of our
own souls, for "the Sea flows into all the creeks and crannies of the
World."[33]  But to find Him--this original Ground and Reality--we must
"leave the outcoasts" and go back into "the Abysse."  Most of us are
busy "playing with cockel-shells and pebble-stones that lie on the
outcoasts of the Kingdom," and we do not put back to the infinite Sea
itself, where we become united and made one with His Life.[34]

The process of return is a process of denial and subtraction.  The
"cockel-shells and pebble-stones" must be left, and one finite thing
after another must be dropped, and finally "all that thou callest I,
all that self ness, all that propriety that thou hast taken to thyself,
whatsoever creates in us Iness and selfness, must be brought to
nothing."[35]  If we would hear God, we must still the noises within
ourselves.  "All the Artillery in the World, were they all discharged
together at one clap, could not more deaf the ears of our bodies than
the clamorings of desires in the soul deaf its ears, so you see a man
must go into silence or else he cannot hear God speak."[36]  All "the
minstrels" that are singing of self and self interests "must be cast
out."  If "the creature" is to be loved and used at all, it must be
loved and used rightly and in balance, which is hard to do.  "Thou must
love it and use it as if thou loved it not and used it not, not
appropriating it to thyself, and always being ready to leave it
willingly and freely; so that thou sufferest no rending, no tearing in
thy soul to part with it, and so thou usest it for God and in God and
to ends appointed by God."[37]

The result of this junction of finite and infinite in us is {250} that
a Christian life is bound to be a strenuous contest: "you must expect
to fight a great battel."  "You are," Everard says again, "bidden to
fight with your own selves, with your own desires, with your own
affections, with your own reason, with your own will; and therefore if
you will finde your enemies, never look without.  If you will finde out
the Devil and what he is and what his nature is, look within you.
_There_ you may see him in his colours, in his nature, in his power, in
his effects and in his working."[38]

In a word, the way to God is the way of the Cross.  Christ Himself is
the pattern and His way of Life is the typical way for all who would
find God--"Christ Jesus is He that all visions tend to; He is the
substance of all the types, shadows, and sacrifices.  He is the
_business_ that the whole Word was ever about, and only is, and shall
be about; He hath been, is, and shall be the business of all ages, in
one kinde or other."[39]  "The Book of God," he says in another sermon,
"is a great Book, and many words are in it, and many large volumes have
been drawn out of it, but Jesus Christ is the body of it; He is the
Mark all these words shoot at."[40]  It henceforth becomes our business
to find Christ's life and Christ's death in us, to see that all His
deeds are done in us.  Christ's will must become our will, Christ's
peace our peace, Christ's sufferings our sufferings, Christ's cross our
cross, and then we may know "the eternal Sabbath," and keep "quiet,
even if the whole fabrick of heaven and earth crack and the mountains
tumble down."[41]

Everard was always on the watch for those things which prevent the
growth, progress, and advance of the soul into the deeper significance
of religion.  The true Christian continually "grows taller in Christ,"
he does not stop at "the child's stature," his growth is "not stinted
like a Dwarf."[42]  He discovers one of the prevailing {251} causes of
arrested development, the "stinting" of the soul, to lie in the wrong
use of externals, in the subtle tendency to "rest" in the elements or
beginnings of religion, as he calls them, in "the lowest things in
Christianity."  This is "to cover oneself with fig-leaves as Adam
did."[43]  Men "turn shadows into substance," and instead of using
ordinances and sacraments, "as means, schoolmasters and tutors," "as
steps and guides to Christ who is the Truth and Substance," they so use
them that they stop the soul mid-way and hinder it from going on to
Christ.[44]  He cites the way in which St. Paul "burst out into a holy
defiance" of everything which did not directly minister to the
formation of a new creation within the person, whether it were Moses
and the law or even Christ after the flesh, or any "outward Priviledges
and Ordinances" whatever.  Those who make these things "the top and
quintessence of religion" miss the Apostle's "more excellent way."
Those who "stick in externals" and "rest upon them as Crutches and
Go-bies" [_i.e._ become arrested there] prevent growth in religion,
"turn the ordinance into an Idol" and occasion disputes and
differences, "like children who quarrel about triffles."[45]  But
Everard is, nevertheless, very cautious not to go too far in this
direction and he always shows poise and balance.  So long as the
outward, whether letter or sacrament, is kept in its place and is used
as means or medium for the attainment of a spiritual goal--the
formation of Christ within--he approves of its use and warns against a
too sudden transcendence of the outward helps to the soul.[46]

Here in England, then, during the tumultuous years from 1625 to 1650 a
solid scholar and a great preacher was teaching the people the same
views which the spiritual Reformers of Germany had taught a century
earlier.  Like them, Everard taught that the book of the Bible, in so
far as it consists of words, syllables, and letters, is not the Word of
God, for God's Word is not ink and paper, but Life and Spirit, quick
and powerful, illuminating the {252} soul immediately, and
demonstrating itself by its creative work upon the inward man until he
becomes like the Spirit that works within him.[47]  Like them, he
insisted that Christ becomes Saviour only as He becomes the Life of our
lives and repeats in us in a spiritual way the events of His outward
and historical life.  Like them, too, he had discovered that God is not
a being of wrath and anger, needing to be appeased.  On the contrary he
says: "Beloved, were you once to come to a true sight of God, you would
see Him glorious and amiable, full of love and mercy and
tenderness--all wrath and frowns blown clean away.  We should see in
Him not so much as any shadow of anger."[48]  Like them, he found
heaven not far away but in the redeemed soul: "Heaven is nothing but
Grace perfected, 'tis of the same nature of that you enjoy here when
you are united by faith to Christ."[49]  "I remember," he once said,
"how I was taught as a child, either by my nurse, or my mother, or my
schoolmaster, that God was above in heaven, above the sun, moon and
stars, and there, I thought, was His Court, and His Chamber of
presence, and I thought it a great height to come to this knowledge;
but I assure you I had more to do to unlearn this principle than ever I
had to learn it."[50]  He tries to call his hearers away from "the
childish apprehensions" that heaven is a place of "visible and ocular
glories," or that "it shall be only hereafter," or that its glory
"consists in Thrones, and Crowns, and Scepters, in Music, Harps and
Vyols, and such like carnal and poor things."[51]

He was a man of beautiful spirit, of saintly life, "courageous and
discerning," "concerned not so much over self-sufferings as that truth
should not in any way be obstructed through him," and he belongs in the
list of those who saw through the veil of the outward, through the
parable of the letter, and found the inward and eternal Reality.[52]



Another seventeenth-century interpreter of religion as direct and
immediate experience of God was Giles Randall, who, like John Everard,
was a scholar, a translator of religious books, and a powerful popular
preacher.  If one knew him only through the accounts of the
heresy-hunters of the period, one would suppose him to have been a
disseminator of the most "virulent poyson" for the soul; but a careful
examination of all the material available convinces me that he was a
high-minded, sincere, and fearless bearer of the message of the
present, living, inwardly-experienced Christ, as Eternal Spirit, Divine
Light, and Word of God.

It is extremely difficult, from the fragmentary details at hand, to
construct a biographical account of Randall, but the following sketch
of him seems fairly well supported by facts:

He was the son of Edward Randall of Chipping Wycombe, Bucks, and
received his B.A. from Lincoln College, Oxford, February 13,
1625-6.[53]  He was probably the nephew of John Randall, B.D.
(1570-1622), an eminent Puritan divine, a man of good scholarship and
of large means, who bequeathed by will his house and garden to his
"loveing Nephewe Gyles Randall."[54]  He seems to have been for some
years a minister in good odour and repute, and to have given no
occasion of complaint against his doctrine before 1643.  He probably
was the Giles Randall who was arrested in 1637 and tried in the Star
Chamber for {254} preaching against "ship-money" as unjust and an
offence against God, since it was, he declared in his sermon, "a way of
taking burdens off rich men's shoulders and laying them on the necks of
poor men."[55]  He was again before the Star Chamber--this time it is
certainly our Giles Randall--in 1643 charged with preaching
"anabaptism," "familism," and "antinomianism," according to the usual
labels of the time.  He had been for some years preaching peaceably at
"the Spital" in London with great multitudes of people nocking to hear
him.[56]  The charge of heresy was brought against Randall for a sermon
which he was said to have preached in St. Martin Orgar's, a soundly
orthodox church, in Candlewick ward, London--the charge being that he
preached against "the mandatory and obligatory nature of the law as a
Christian rule to walk by," and asserted that a child of God can live
as sinless a life as Christ's was.[57]  He was "removed" from the
ministry "for his anabaptism" in the autumn of 1644, though he
continued to preach after being "removed."[58]  The famous drag-nets of
heresy give us a few more details of Randall's "poysonous" doctrine.
Edwards says that Randall taught that "our common food, ordinary eating
and drinking, is a sacrament of Christ's death," and that "all
creatures [_i.e._ everything in the visible creation] held forth God in
Christ."[59]  Samuel Rutherford charges him with teaching a possible
perfection in this life: "Randall, the antinomian and Familist says,
those persons are ever learning and never coming to knowledge who say
that perfection is not attainable in this life."[60]  He further
charges that Randall in a sermon said that "Christ's Parables, from
Sowing, a Draw-net, Leaven, etc., did prove that to expound the
Scriptures by allegories was lawfull and that all the things of this
life, as Seeds, the Wayside, a Rocke, the Sea, a {255} Net, the Leaven,
etc., were sacraments of Christ . . . and that a spiritual minde might
see the mysteries of the Gospel in all the things of nature and of this
life.  This man who preacheth most abomnable Familisme is suffered in
and about London publickly, twise on the Lord's Day, to draw hundreds
of Godly people after him!"[61]

John Etherington throws a little more light upon the nature of this
"abomnable Familism," which so many godly people liked.  He says that
Randall taught in his sermons that when a person is baptized with the
Holy Ghost he knows all things, and has entered into the deep mystery
which is "like the great ocean where there is no casting anchor nor
sounding the bottome"; that perfection and the resurrection are
attainable in the present time; that "those who have the Spirit have
nothing to doe with the law nor with the baptism of repentance which
John preached"; "he presumes to turn the holy writings of Moses, the
Prophets, of Christ and His Apostles into Allegories," and gives "a
spiritual meaning" to the same.[62]  It is clear from the comments of
these crumb-pickers of pernicious doctrine that Giles Randall, as a
preacher, was teaching the views now quite familiar to us.  He was
teaching that the whole world is a revelation of God, that Christ is
God fully revealed; that the Divine Spirit, incarnate in Him, comes
upon men still and brings them into the bottomless, unsoundable deeps
of Life with God, and makes it possible for them to attain a perfect
life; that the Scriptures as outward and legal must be transcended, and
that they must be spiritually discerned and experienced.

Nearly everything connected with Randall's name presents an historical
puzzle to us.  His biography, as we have seen, lies hid in obscurity
and his books present baffling problems.  There are three translations
of religious classics which bear his name on the title-page, and which
are introduced to the reader in Prefaces written by him, but it is far
from certain that he actually made the {256} translations.  In 1646 he
published a little book called the _Single Eye, or the Vision of God
wherein is unfolded the Mystery of the Divine Presence_.  Randall says
that the book was written by "that learned Doctor Cusanus."  It is in
fact a translation of the _De visione Dei_ of Nicholas of Cusa, and it
is word for word a printed copy of the Cambridge MS. ascribed to John
Everard.  The other book, published in 1648, is an English edition of
_Theologia Germanica_, the translation being made from the Latin of
"John Theophilus," that is, Sebastian Castellio.  It is called "a
Little Golden Manuall briefly discovering the mysteries, sublimity,
perfection and simplicity of Christianity in Belief and Practice."
Everard, it will be remembered, also translated this "little golden
book," but in this case there are very great variations between
Randall's printed copy and the Cambridge MS., and they probably did not
come from the same hand.[63]  The English translation was evidently
made some time before the appearance of this edition of 1648, for
Randall says in his Introduction that "This little Book was long veiled
and obscured (by its unknown tongue) from the eye of the illiterate and
inexpert, until some years since, through the desires and industries of
some of our own countrymen, lovers of Truth, it was translated and made
to speak to thee in thine own dialect and language.  But the time of
its Nativity being under the late wise and wary Hierarchic who had
monopolized and engrossed the discovery of others . . . it walked up
and down the city in MSS. at deer rates from hand to hand of some
well-wishers to truth, in clandestine and private manner; like Moses in
his Arke, or the little {257} Child fled and hid from Herod, never
daring to crowd into the Presse, fearing the rude usuage of those then
in authority."[64]

Both Robert Baillie and Benjamin Bourne had seen the treatise before
their respective books against heresy appeared in 1646, and they were
deeply stirred against Randall for sowing what to their minds seemed
such dangerous doctrines and such regard for "Popish writings."[65]
His critics further connect Randall with other books.  Baillie speaks
of two books: "the one by a Dutch Frier [evidently the Theologia] and
the other by an English Capuchine."  Bourne writes against those
dangerous books _Theologia Germanica, The Bright Star, Divinity and
Philosophy Dissected_, and Edwards couples with _the Vision of God_
(the treatise by Nicholas of Cusa) "the third part of the Rule of
Perfection by a Cappuchian Friar."[66]

John Goodwin, vicar of St. Stephen's in Coleman St., commenting on
Edward's _Gangraena_, humorously says: "I marvaile how Mr. Edwards
having (it seems) an authorized power to make errors and heresies at
what rate and of what materialles he pleaseth, and hopes to live upon
the trade, could stay his pen at so small a number as 180, and did not
advance to that angelicall quotient in the Apocalypse, which is _ten
thousand times ten thousand_," and he adds that if Edwards had
consulted with a book "printed within the compasse of his foure years,
intitled _Divinity and Philosophy Dissected, set out by a mad man_,
with some few others . . .  He shall be able to increase his roll of
errors from 180 to 280, if not to 500."[67]  Samuel {258} Rutherford
says: "So hath _Randel_ the _Familist_ prefixed an Epistle to two
Popish Tractates, furnishing to us excellent priviledges of Familisme,
the one called _Theologia Germanica_, and the other _Bright Starre_,
which both advance perfect Saints above Law, and Gospel". . .[68]

This treatise, called _A Bright Starre_ (London, 1646), which so deeply
disturbed the seventeenth-century guardians of orthodoxy, is a
translation of "The Third Part of the Rule of Perfection," written by
an English Capuchin Friar, and "faithfully done into the English
tongue," apparently by Randall, "for the common good."[69]  It is a
profoundly mystical book, characterized by interior depth and insight.
Its central aim is the exposition of a stage of spiritual life which
transcends both "the active life" and "the contemplative life," a stage
which the writer calls "the Life Supereminent."  In this highest stage
"the essential will of God is practiced," without strain or effort,
because God Himself has now become the inner Life and Being of the
person, the spring and power of the new-formed will.

Randall's preface, or "Epistle to the Reader," as he calls it, is a
further revelation of his religious views, and his Christian spirit.
He pleads for freedom and for variety in religious life and thought.
God does not want one fixed and unvarying Christian form or doctrine;
He wants variety in the spiritual life as He has arranged for variety
in the external world of nature: "As in the world all men are not of an
equall height and stature of body, but some taller, some shorter; some
weaker, some stronger: so neither are all of one just and even
proportion in spiritual light and strength of faith in the kingdome of
Christ, some are dwarfs of Zacheus his pitch, some {259} againe of
Saul's port, taller by his head and shoulders than his brethren; so, in
the kingdome of Christ, some are babes, some are young men, some are
fathers, every one according to the measure of the gift of Christ."
God has something in His kingdom that fits each spiritual stature,
something suited to each intellectual capacity.  He does not want one
and the same note struck by all--"harping blindly on one string."  He
does not want men to be "tyed to one forme and kept forever to one
lesson, unable to top up their work"--He wants men to "go from strength
to strength, from faith to faith and from height to height."

Randall declares that he has observed with deep sorrow "the
_non-proficiency_ of many ingenuous spirits who through the policie of
others and the too too much modesty and timerity of themselves" have
failed to progress "to the top and pitch" of their possible
perfection--"poore soules after many years travelling being found in
the same place and going the same pace!"  He hopes that this book on
Perfection which he is now giving "common vulgar people in their own
mother tongue," though it is a way that is "high and hard and almost
unheard of amongst us," may help men to grow up into their full stature
and to come to "the uttermost steps of Jacob's Ladder which reacheth
into the heavens."  The lower stages of the religious life consist (1)
of external practices and exercises in conformity to the law of God,
and (2) interior contemplation and meditation of a God thought of as
outside and beyond the soul's real possession.  But the true spiritual
life, and "Sabbath rest of the soul," is reached only when God becomes
the inner Life of our lives, when Christ is formed within and we see
Light and have our wisdom through His divine anointing.  At the highest
stage of spiritual life man finds himself by ceasing to be himself.
God can now reveal His beauty and glory through such a person and act
and work in him and through him.  This teaching, Randall admits, is
only for "experienced Christians," but he believes that this book will
have "good successe amongst _the Children of {260} the Light_, who are
taught of God and who run and read the hidden and deepe things of

If we may judge Randall from his extant Prefaces he was a beautiful
spirit and was, in fact, what he calls himself, "a lover of the Truth
in the Truth."[71]  He says that "Nothing is or ever was endeavored by
most men, with more industry and less success than the true knowledge
of God," but this perennial failure is due, he thinks, to the false
ways which have been taken, especially to "the negative process of
abstraction" by which men have tried in vain to find God.  The only
true way to Him is "the new and living way" through the concrete
revelation of Him.  "The sound and unerring knowledge of God standeth
in your knowledge of your man Christ Jesus, and whoever hath seen Him
hath seen the Father also, for He is not a dead image of Him, but a
living Image of the invisible God, yea, the fulgor or brightness of His
glory and character of His person. . . .  He is an Immanuel, God with
us, God in us. . . .  But there is no true knowledge of God within us
till He be in us formed in the face of Jesus Christ."[72]  He declares
that since "understanding" must be helped by "sense" and "sense is not
available till it live in the light of the understanding," we must
learn to find the infinite in the finite, the invisible in the visible,
and thus in Christ we have God "finitely infinite and infinitely
finite"--"He cloathes Himself with flesh, reason, sense and the form
and nature of a servant, who yet is above all and Lord over all."  "He
that is infinitely above thee makes himselfe be to thee [visibly] what
He is in thee."[73]  Christ is the universal revealer of God to all who
see Him, just as the portrait of a human face seems to fix and follow
the beholder from any position in the room, while at the same time it
does the same to all other beholders from whatever angle they may

_The Vision of God_, whether Englished by Randall or {261} by Everard,
or by both working together, is translated into beautiful, often
poetical and rhythmical English, and contains many vivid passages, such
as the following: "Thou, O God, canst never forsake me so long as I am
_capable of Thee_."[75]  "I love my life exceedingly because Thou art
the sweetness of my life."[76]  "No man can turn to Thee except Thou be
present, for except Thou wert present and diddest solicit me I should
not know Thee at all."[77]  "Restless is my heart, O Lord, because Thy
love hath enflamed it with such a desire that it cannot rest but in
Thee alone."[78]  "In the Son of Man I see the Son of God, because Thou
art so the Son of Man that Thou art the Son of God and in the finite
attracted nature I see the Infinite Attracting Nature."  "I see all
things in thy human nature which I see in thy divine nature."[79]  "To
come to God is Paradise; to see God is to be in Paradise."[80]  "The
Word of God illuminateth the understanding as the light of the sun doth
the world.  I see the fountain of Light in the Word of God. . . .
Christ is the Word of God humanified and man deified."[81]  "What is
more easie than to believe God, what is more sweet than to love
Him. . . .  Thy Spirit, O God, comes into the intellectual spirit of
good men, and by the heat of divine love concocts the virtuall power
which may be perfected in us. . . .  All Scriptures labour for nothing
but to show Thee, all intellectual spirits have no other exercise but
to seek Thee and to reveal Thee.  Above all things Thou hast given me
Jesus for a Master, the Way of Life, and Truth, so that there might be
nothing at all wanting to me."[82]

The literary style of _Divinity and Philosophy Dissected_ is unlike
that of Randall's known writings, and yet it is not impossible for him
to have written it.[83]  The ideas which fill the little book are quite
similar to those which {262} Randall held and are in full accord with
those which prevailed in this general group of Christian thinkers.  The
writer of the treatise, whoever he was, is fond of allegory and
symbolic interpretation.  He turns Adam into a figure and makes the
Garden of Eden an allegory in quite modern fashion.  "Doe you thinke,"
he writes, "that there was a materiall garden or a tree whereon did
grow the fruit of good and evill, or that the serpent did goe up in the
same to speake to the woman?  Sure it cannot stand with reason that it
could be so, for it is said that all the creatures did come to Adam,
and he gave them names according to their natures: now it is contrary
to the Serpent's nature to speake after the manner of men, unlesse you
will alleadge that she understood the language of the beasts, and
thought them wiser than God, and resolved to be ruled by them, which to
me seems altogether against reason, that the woman should be so
ignorant and unrationall, who was created rationall after the image of
God to be ruler of all creatures: for at this day if a Serpent went up
into a tree, and did speake from thence to men and women, it would make
them afraid in so much that they would not doe what he bid them: or
dost thou thinke that in Mesopotamia (a great way off beyond the seas)
that there is a materiall garden wherein standeth the tree of life, and
the tree of knowledge of good and ill, both in one place, and an
angell, standing with a flickering sword to keep the tree of life from
the man!"[84]

The book contains a very striking confession of Faith quite unlike that
which Rutherford or Baillie or Edwards would have allowed as "sound,"
but yet serious, honest, and marked with a clear note of experience.
God is, for the writer, above everything a living God, a Spirit, "a
perfect clear Light that reveals to man the Truth."  God is, he says,
Light, Life, and Love, and He is all these things to man.  He instructs
and convinces his conscience; He disciplines and corrects him; He
raises condemnation in us for our sins, and "His Light persuades our
hearts to have true sorrow and real repentance for our sins, with a
{263} broken and contrite heart and sorrowful spirit, and so we begin
to hate ourselves and our sins, and doe really forsake them."[85]
"There is," he maintains, in words that sound strangely like the yet
unborn Quakers, "an infallible Spirit, Jesus Christ, the power of God
in us, which directs, corrects, instructs, perswades, and makes us wise
unto salvation; for He is the holy Word of life unto us . . . and
discovers all mysteries unto us, . . . if so be we are obedient unto
Him; but if we are not obedient unto Him, this infallible Spirit, Jesus
Christ in us, then we shall know nothing of God or of the Scriptures,
but it shall be a _sealed book, a dead letter, a seeming contradiction_
unto us."[86]

Samuel Rutherford declares the little treatise to be "a rude, foolish
and unlearned Pamphlet of late penned and changing, as Familists and
Antinomians doe, Scripture and God and Christ into metaphores and vaine
Allegories."[87]  The comment of this good man is honest and sincere,
but of value only as revealing the mental attitude of himself.  Here
the representative of the old system was speaking out of the past and
condemning a dawning movement which with his apperceiving material he
could not understand, but which was in a few years to have
extraordinary expansion and which, when it should in time become
defecated through discipline and spiritual travail, was destined to
speak to the condition of many minds to whom Rutherford's "notions"
have become only empty words.


A beautiful little anonymous book of this period, containing a similar
conception of Christianity to that set forth in the writings of Everard
and Randall, must be briefly considered here: _The Life and Light of a
Man in Christ Jesus_ (London, 1646).  The writer, who was a scholarly
man, shows the profound influence of the _Theologia Germanica_, that
universal book of religion which {264} fed so many souls in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and he has evidently found, either
at home or abroad, spiritual guides who have brought him to the
Day-star in his own heart.

Religion, he says, is wholly a matter of the "operative manifestation
of Christ in a man--the divine Spirit living in a man."[88]  To miss
that experience and to lack that inner life in God is to miss the very
heart of religion.  "There be many and diverse Religions and Baptisms
among many and diverse peoples of the habitable world, but to be
baptized as a man in Christ--that is to be baptized into the living,
active God, so that the man has his salvation and eternal well-being
wrought in him by the Spirit and life of his God--is the only
best."[89]  Those who lack "this real spiritual business" never attain
"the true Sabbath-rest of the soul."  They go to meeting on "Sunday,
Sabbath or First day [_sic_] merely to hear such or such a rare divine
preach or discourse, or to participate in such or such Ordinances."[90]
They have "an artificiall, historicall Divinity [Theology] which they
have attained by the eye, that is by reading books, or by the ears,
that is, by hearing this or that man, or by gathering up
expressions"--their religion rests on "knowledge" and not on Christ
experienced within.[91]  This external religion is not so much wrong as
it is inadequate and immature.  "It is," he says, "like unto young
children, who with shells and little stones imitate a real
building!"[92]  The religion which carries a man beyond shadows to true
realities and from the cockle-shell house to a permanent and eternal
temple for the Spirit is the religion which finds Christ within as the
Day-star in the man's own heart.[93]

There is throughout this simple little book a noble appreciation of
love as the "supream good" for the soul.  "The God of infinite goodness
and eternal love" is a kind of refrain which bursts forth in these
pages again {265} and again.  Love in _us_ is, he thinks, "a sparkle of
that immense and infinite Love of the King and Lord of Love."[94]
Salvation and eternal well-being consist for him in the formation of a
life "consecrated and united unto the true Light and Love of Christ."
The man who has this Life within him will always be willing and glad
when the time comes "to returne againe into the bosome of his heavenly
Father-God."[95]  And not only is the man who has the Life of Christ in
him harmonized in love upwardly toward God; he is also harmonized
outwardly towards his fellows.  "He is a member with all other men,
with the good as a lowly-minded disciple to them; with those that are
not in Christ, as a deare, sympathizing helper, doing his utmost to do
them good."[96]  He has written his "little Treatise," he says, "as a
love-token from the Father" to help lead men out of the "darke pits of
the world's darkness" into the full Light of the soul's day-dawn.

The book lacks the robustness and depth that are so clearly in evidence
in most of the writings that have been dealt with in this volume, but
there is a beauty, a simplicity, a sweetness, a sincerity born of
experience, which give this book an unusual flavour and perfume.  The
writer says that there is "an endless battle between the Seed of the
woman and the seed of the serpent," but one feels that he has fought
the battle through and won.  He says that "a man should be unto God
what a house is to a man," _i.e._ a man should be a habitation of the
living God, and the reader feels that this man has made himself a
habitation for the divine presence within.  He says if you want
spiritual help you must go to a "man who has skill in God," and one
lays down his slender book feeling assured that, out of the experience
of Christ in his own soul, he did have "skill in God," so that he could
speak to the condition of others.  There was at least one man in
England in 1646 who knew that the true source and basis of religion was
to be found in the experience of Christ within and not in theological
notions of Him.

[1] The Italian titles of these two books are _Alfabeto Christiana_
(1546) and _Le Cento et dieci divine Considerationi_ (1550).

[2] _A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist_ (1648), p. 164.

[3] _Ibid._ p. 319.

[4] Epistle Dedicatory to _Some Gospel Treasures Opened_ (London, 1653).

[5] _Gospel Treas._, "To the Reader."

[6] _Ibid._

[7] Sometimes "Divers Earls and Lords and other great ones" were in his

[8] _Gospel Treas._, "To the Reader."

[9] _Sig. Dd._ xii. p. 68.

[10] Fourth series, i. p. 597.

[11] Denck's name is used in its Latin form John Denqui, and he is
called _magnus theologus_.

[12] _Hermes Trismegistus_ was published in Everard's lifetime.  Large
extracts from his manuscript translations are given in the _Gospel
Treasures Opened_ (1653).  _The Vision of God_ was edited and published
in full by Giles Randall in 1646, and it is very probable that Everard
and Randall did this work together.

[13] _Gospel Treasures Opened_, p. 393.

[14] Sermon on "The Starre in the East," _Gospel Treas._ pp. 52-54.
See also pp. 586-587.  Compare the famous lines of Angelus Silesius:

    "Had Christ a thousand times
    Been born in Bethlehem
    But not in thee, thy sin
    Would still thy soul condemn."

_Angelus Silesius_, edited by Paul Carus (Chicago, 1909), p. 103.

[15] _Gospel Treas._ pp. 59, 72, and 98.

[16] _Ibid._ pp. 270-271.

[17] _Ibid._ p. 282.

[18] _Ibid._ p. 92.

[19] _Ibid._ p. 280

[20] _Gospel Treas._ pp. 310-311.

[21] _Ibid._ p. 286.

[22] _Ibid._ p. 468.

[23] _Ibid._ p. 343.

[24] _Ibid._ p. 344.

[25] _Ibid._ p. 341.

[27] _Ibid._ p. 344.

[27] _Gospel Treas._ p. 81.

[28] _Ibid._ p. 630.

[29] _Ibid._ pp. 637 and 658.

[30] _Gospel Treas._ p. 411.

[31] _Ibid._ 2nd ed. ii. p. 345.

[32] _Gospel Treas._ p. 753.

[33] _Ibid._ p. 418.

[34] _Ibid._ pp. 423-425.

[35] _Ibid._ p. 230.

[36] _Ibid._ p. 600.

[37] _Ibid._ p. 308.

[38] _Gospel Treas._ p. 142.

[39] _Ibid._ p. 648.

[40] _Ibid._ p. 642.

[41] _Ibid._ pp. 99 and 250.  Everard's greater contemporary, Pascal,
also held the view that what happened to Christ should take place in
every Christian.  He wrote to his sister, Madame Perier, Oct. 17, 1651,
on the death of their father: "We know that what has been accomplished
in Jesus Christ should be accomplished also in all His members."

[42] _Ibid._ pp. 555-556.

[43] _Gospel Treas._ p. 315.

[44] _Ibid._ p. 558.

[45] _Ibid._ pp. 561-562.

[46] _Ibid._ pp. 563-565.

[47] _Gospel Treas._ pp. 310-315.

[48] _Ibid._ p. 361.

[49] _Ibid._ p. 365.

[50] _Ibid._ p. 736.

[51] _Ibid._ p. 552.

[52] It is not possible to tell whether the sermons of John Everard
were generally known to the early Quakers or not.  He held similar
views to theirs on many points, and he reiterates, with as much vigour
as does Fox, the inadequacy of University learning as a preparation for
spiritual ministry.  One Quaker at least of the early time read Everard
and appreciated him.  That was John Bellers.  In his "Epistle to the
Quarterly Meeting of London and Middlesex," written in 1718, Bellers
quotes "the substance of an excellent Discourse of a poor man in
Germany, above 300 years ago, then writ by John Taulerus, and since
printed in John Everard's Works, who was a religious dissenter in King
James the First's time."  He thereupon gives the "Dialogue between a
Learned Divine and a Beggar" (which Everard ascribed to Tauler) to add
force to his own presentation of "the duty of propagating piety,
charity, and industry among men."

[53] Foster's _Alumni Oxonienses_ (1500-1714), vol. iii.  Early Series,
p. 1231.

[54] 57, Savile, Probate Court of Canterbury, Somerset House.

[55] Calendar of State Papers, Dom. Ser. Charles I.

[56] Robert Baillie's _Anabaptisme, the true Fountains of Independency_
(1646), p. 102,

[57] Thomas Gataker's _God's Eye on His Israel_ (1645), Preface.

[58] _Journal of Commons_, August 9, 1644, pp. 584-585.

[59] _Gangraena_ (1646), part iii. p. 25.

[60] _A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist_ (1647), chap. xi. p. 143.

[61] _A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist_, chap. lxxvi. pp. 162-163.

[62] _A Brief Discovery_, etc. (1645), pp. 1-5.

[63] Contemporary writers held that the Giles Randall who preached in
"the Spital" was the translator.  Robert Baillie, Principal of Glasgow
University, in his work on _Anabaptisme_, pp. 102-103, speaks of
Randall who preached in "the Spital," and refers to his increasing
temerity as shown by the fact that "he hath lately printed two very
dangerous books and set his Preface before each of them, composed as he
professes long ago by Popish Priests, the one by a Dutch Frier and the
other by an English Capuchine."  Baillie further refers to the "deadly
poison" of these books as shown in Benjamin Bourne's _Description and
Confutation of Mysticall Antichrist, the Familists_ (1646), where "the
dangerous books" are named, as _Theologia Germanica, the Bright Star,
Divinity and Philosophy Dissected_.  Edward's _Gangraena_ also
identifies Randall the preacher with the translator of "Popish Books
written by Priests and Friers," citing as an example "The Vision of God
by Cardinall Cusanus," _op. cit._ (1646), part iii.

[64] Preface.

[65] Bourne's _Description and Confutation_ and Baillie's
_Anabaptisme_.  It seems likely that there was an earlier edition of
the Theologia than this of 1648, as the chapters and pages quoted by
Bourne do not correspond with those of the 1648 edition, whose
title-page has this clause: "Also a Treatise of the Soul and other
additions not _before_ printed."

[66] _Gangraena_, part iii.

[67] Goodwin's _Cretensis_ (1646).  The book, entitled _Divinity and
Philosophy Dissected_, and attributed by implication to Randall, was
published in Amsterdam in 1644, with the following title-page:

    "Divinity & Philosophy Dissected, & set forth by a mad man.
    "The first Book divided into 3 Chapters.
      "Chap. I.  The description of the World in man's heart with the
         Articles of the Christian Faith.
      "Chap. II.  A description of one Spirit acting in all, which some
         affirme is God.
      "Chap. III.  A description of the Scripture according to the
         history and mystery thereof.
    "Amsterdam, 1644."

[68] _Survey_, etc., part ii. chap. xlvii. p. 53.

[69] The only copy of Randall's _Bright Starre_ which I have been able
to locate is in the Lambeth Palace Library.  A copy of it formerly
belonged to the learned Quaker, Benjamin Furly, and was sold with his
remarkable collection of books in 1714.

[70] This term, "Children of the Light," was the name by which Friends,
or Quakers, first called themselves.  It was plainly a term current at
the time for a Christian who put the emphasis on inward life and
personal experience.

[71] Preface to _Theologia_.

[72] Preface to _The Vision of God_.

[73] _Ibid._

[74] Nicholas' Preface to _De visione Dei_.

[75] _The Vision of God_, p. 11.

[76] _Ibid._ p. 13.

[77] _Ibid._ p. 19.  Compare this passage with Pascal's saying: "Thou
wouldst not seek me if thou hadst not already found me."

[78] _Ibid._ p. 37.

[79] _Ibid._ p. 130.

[80] _Ibid._ p. 138.

[81] _Ibid._ pp. 151-152.

[82] _Ibid._ pp. 170-176.

[83] There is no author's name or initial in the book, only the
statement that it is "put forth" by a "mad man," who "desires to be in
my wits and right minde to God, although a fool and madman to the

[84] _Divinity and Philosophy Dissected_, pp. 39-40.

[85] _Divinity and Philosophy Dissected_, p. 17.

[86] _Ibid._ p. 62.

[87] _A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist_, chap. xiv. p. 163.

[88] _Life and Light_, p. 3.

[89] _Ibid._ pp. 99 and 101 quoted freely.

[90] _Ibid._ p. 19.  It should be noted that this use of "First-day"
for Sunday antedates the Quaker practice.

[91] _Ibid._ pp. 26-27.

[92] _Ibid._ p. 35.

[93] See _ibid._ p. 36.

[94] _Life and Light_, p. 11.

[95] _Ibid._ p. 38.

[96] _Ibid._ p. 34.




The spiritual struggles which culminated in the great upheaval of the
English Commonwealth were the normal fruit of the Reformation spirit,
when once it had penetrated the life of the English _people_ and kindled
the fire of personal conviction in their hearts.  Beginning as it did
with the simple substitution of royal for papal authority in the
government of the Church, the English Reformation lacked at its inception
the inward depth, the prophetic vision, the creative power, the vigorous
articulation of newly awakened personal conscience, which formed such a
commanding feature of the Reformation movement on the Continent.  It took
another hundred years in England to cultivate individual conscience, to
ripen religious experience, to produce the body of dynamic _ideas_, and
to create the necessary prophetic vision before an intense and popular
spirit of Reform could find its voice and marching power.  The contact of
English exiles and chance visitors with the stream of thought in Germany,
in Switzerland, and in Holland, and the filtering in of literature from
the Continent, together with the occasional coming of living exponents,
sowed the seeds that slowly ripened into that strange and interesting
variety of religious thought and practice which forms the inner life of
the Commonwealth.  The policy of the throne had always opposed this
steadily increasing tide of thought which refused to run in the well-worn
channels, but, as usual, the opposition and hindrances only served to
{267} deepen personal conviction, to sharpen the edge of conscience, to
nourish great and daring spirits, to formulate the battle-ideas and to
win popular support.  The inner life and the varied tendencies of the
Commonwealth are too rich and complicated to be adequately treated
here.[1]  The purpose of this chapter is to show how the type of inward
and spiritual religion, which the Reformation in its kindling power
everywhere produced, finds expression in the writings of three men who
came to large public prominence in the period of the Commonwealth,
Francis Rous, Sir Harry Vane, and Peter Sterry.


Francis Rous was born in Cornwall in 1579.  He graduated B.A. at Oxford
in 1597 and at the University of Leyden in 1599.  He entered the Middle
Temple in 1601, with the prospect of a legal and public career before
him, but soon withdrew and retired to Cornwall, where in a quiet country
retreat he became absorbed in theological studies.  His later writings
show an intimate acquaintance with the great Church Fathers, especially
with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and the
two Gregorys, and with the mystics, especially with the writings of
Dionysius the Areopagite, St. Bernard, Thomas à Kempis, and John Tauler.
He was intensely Puritan in temper and sympathies in his earlier period
of life, and much of his writing at this stage was for the purpose of
promoting the increase of a deeper and more adequate reform in the
Church.  He translated the Psalms into "English Meeter," and his version
was approved by the Westminster Assembly, authorized for use by
Parliament, and adopted by the estates in Scotland, "whose Psalms,"
Carlyle says, "the Northern Kirks still sing."[2]

He was a member of Charles I.'s first and second Parliaments, and again
of the Short Parliament and of {268} the Long Parliament.  He was also a
member of the Little Parliament, often called "Barebones Parliament," of
which he was Speaker, and of the Parliaments of 1654 and of 1656, and he
was, too, a member of Oliver's Council of State.  He was one of many
thoughtful men of the time who passed with the rapid development of
affairs from the Presbyterian position to Independency, and he served on
the Committee for the propagation of the Gospel which framed a
congregational plan for Church government.  He was a voluminous writer,
but his type of Christianity can be seen sufficiently in his three little
books: _Mystical Marriage_ (1635), _The Heavenly Academy_ (1638), and
_The Great Oracle_ (1641).[3]

He, again, like so many before him, influenced by Plato as well as by the
New Testament and Christian writers, made the discovery that there is
something divine in the soul of man, and that this "something divine" in
man is always within hail of an inner world of divine splendour.  "I was
first breathed forth from heaven," he says, "and came from God in my
creation.  I am divine and heavenly in my original, in my essence, in my
character. . . .  I am a spirit, though a low one, and God is a Spirit,
even the highest one, and God is the fountaine of this spirit [of

The possession of this divine "original," unlost even in the mist and
mystery of a world of time and sense, enables man, he holds, to live in
that higher world even while he sojourns in this lower world.  Human
reason, _i.e._ reasoning, is sufficient to guide in the affairs of this
life, but it is blind to the world of the Spirit from which we came.
"The soule has two eyes--one human reason, the other far excelling that,
a divine and spiritual Light. . . .  By it the soule doth see spiritual
things as truly as the corporall eye doth corporal things."[5]  "Human
reason acknowledges the sovereignty of this spiritual Light as a candle
acknowledges the greater light of the sun," and, {269} by its in-shining,
the soul passes "beyond a speculative and discoursing holiness, even
beyond a forme of godliness and advances to _the power of it_."[6]  But
this inward Light does not make outward helps unnecessary.  "The light of
the outward word [the Scriptures] and the Light in our soules are twinnes
and agree together like brothers,"[7] and again he says, "It is an
invaluable [inestimable] Loss that men do so much divide the outward
Teacher from the Inward," though he insists that the ministry of the
Spirit is above any ministry of the letter.[8]

This eye of the soul which is a part of its original structure and is
responsive to the Light of the spiritual world, so that "soule and Light
become knit together into one," is also called by Rous, as by his
predecessors, "Seed" or "Word."  Sometimes this divine Seed is thought of
as an original part of the soul, and sometimes, under the assumption that
"man has grown wild by the fall of Adam" and is "run to weeds," it is
conceived, as by Schwenckfeld, as a saving remedy supernaturally supplied
to the soul--"Christ entering into our spirits lays in them an immortal
seed."[9]  In any case, whether the Seed be original, as is often implied
and stated, or whether it be a supernatural gift of divine Grace in
Christ, as is sometimes implied, it is, in Rous' conception, essential
for the attainment of a religious experience or a Christian life: "A
Christian man hath as much need of Christ's Spirit [called in other
passages Seed or Word] to be a Christian and to live eternally, as a
natural man hath of a spirit [principle of intelligence] to be a man and
to live temporally, so Christ's Spirit and a man together are a
Christian, which is a holy, eternal and happy thing."[10]  He shows, as
do so many of those who emphasize the inner experience of Christ as a
living presence, an exalted appreciation of the historical revelation in
Christ.  Christ is, he says, both God and man, and thus being the perfect
union of divinity and humanity {270} can be our Saviour.[11]  Here in the
full light of His Life and Love we may discover the true nature of God,
who was "great with love before we loved Him."[12]  The outer word
answers to the inner Light as deep calls unto deep, and the two are "knit
together" not to be sundered.  The eye must be on Christ the Light, and
the wise soul "must watch the winde and tide of the Spirit, as the seaman
watcheth the naturall winde and tide.  When the tide of the Spirit
floweth then put thy hand to the oar, for then if thou row strongly thou
maiest advance mightily."[13]

He quaintly says that he has written about these spiritual things, about
the world of divine splendour and the "soule's inner eye," because he
wants to exhibit "some bunches of grapes brought from the land of promise
to show that this land is not a meere imagination, but some have seene it
and have brought away parcels, pledges and ernests of it.  In these
appears a world above the world, a love that passeth human love, a peace
that passeth naturall understanding, a joy unspeakable and glorious, a
taste of the chiefe and soveraigne good."  He has, further, written
because he wanted to "provoke others of this nation to bring forth more
boxes of this precious ointment."[14]

His little books are saturated with a devotional spirit rising into words
like these: "Let my love rest in nothing short of thee, O God!"  "Kindle
and enflame and enlarge my love.  Enlarge the arteries and conduit pipes
by which Thou the head and fountaine of love flows in thy members, that
being abundantly quickened and watered with the Spirit I may abundantly
love Thee."[15]  They contain bursts of intense prayer--"Put thy owne
image and beauty more and more on my soule."  He went through all the
Parliamentary storms of that great epoch; he was Provost of Eton College;
he was Cromwell's friend; but his main ambition seems to have been to be
"knit to God by a personal union," to have "the {271} dayspring in his
own heart," and to be taught in "the heavenly Academy--the High School of


The story of Sir Harry Vane's life, adequately told, would involve the
entire history of the great epoch of the Commonwealth.  Next to Cromwell,
he was the most influential shaper of events from the time of the meeting
of the Long Parliament in 1640 until his "retirement" on the occasion of
the expulsion of the members of Parliament in 1653.  In his views of
constitutional government and of human liberty he was one of the most
original and one of the most modern men of the seventeenth century.
Richard Baxter, who had no love for Vane, is only stating an actual fact
when he says: "To most of our changes he was that within the House that
Cromwell was without."[17]  Clarendon, who loved him still less, said of
him: "He was indeed a man of extraordinary parts, a pleasant wit, a great
understanding which pierced into and discerned the purposes of men with
wonderful sagacity."[18]  What Milton thought of him he has told in one
of the noblest sonnets that a poet ever wrote on a great statesman:

  Vane, young in years, but in sage counsel old,
  Than whom a better senator ne'er held
  The helm of Rome, when gowns not arms repelled
  The fierce Epirot and the African bold:
  Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
  The drift of hollow states hard to be spelled,
  Then to advise how war may best upheld
  Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
  In all her equipage; besides to know
  Both spiritual power and civil, what each means,
  What severs each, thou hast learned, which few have done:
  The bounds of either sword to thee we owe;
  Therefore on thy firm hand religion leans
  In peace, and reckons thee her eldest son.[19]


Vane was quite naturally selected at the Restoration as one of the actors
in the historical drama who could not be allowed to live any longer.  The
day after Vane's trial began, Charles II. wrote to Clarendon: "He is too
dangerous a man to let live, if we can honestly put him out of the
way."[20]  His death brought out the loftiest traits of his character,
and gave him a touch of beauty and glory of character which for posterity
has done much to cover the flaws and defects which were not lacking in
him.  "In all things," writes Pepys, who saw everything in those days,
"he appeared the most resolved man that ever died in that manner."[21]

It is, however, not Vane the statesman, the maker of covenants with
Scotch armies, the creator of sinews of war for the battles of Marston
Moor and Naseby, the organizer of a conquering navy, the man who dared
withstand his old friend Cromwell in the day of the great soldier's
power, that concerns us in this chapter; it is Vane, the religious
Independent, the exponent of inward religion; the man whom Milton calls
"religion's eldest son."  Even in his early youth he passed through a
decisive experience which altered his entire after-life.  "About the
fourteenth or fifteenth year of my age," he said in his dying speech,
"God was pleased to lay the foundation or ground-work of repentance in
me, for the bringing me home to Himself, by His wonderful rich and free
grace, revealing His Son in me, that by the knowledge of the only true
God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, I might, even whilst here in
the body, be made a partaker of eternal life, in the first fruits of
it. . . .  Since that foundation of repentance was laid in me, through
grace I have been kept steadfast, desiring to walk in all good
conscience toward God and toward men, according to the best light and
understanding God gave me."  From this early period on through his life,
he always emphasized the importance of first-hand experience, of inward
revelation, and of Christ's reign in the kingdom of the {273} human soul.
He was still a very young man, when, under the impelling guidance of his
conscience, he felt himself called to intermit, as Schwenckfeld and
others had done, the practice of the sacraments of the Church.  His
attitude toward the sacraments at this time, and, apparently ever
afterwards, was that of the "Seekers."  He had reached the insight that
religion is a spiritual relationship with a spiritual God, and on the
basis of this position he questioned the divine "commission" of those who
administered the external ceremonies of the Church.  It is, however,
perfectly clear that these views were not "original" with him, but that
he had come under the influence of the teachings of the men whom I am
calling "spiritual Reformers."

How inward and mystical his type of Christianity really was, may be
gathered from a short passage of an _Epistle_ which he wrote in 1661:
"The Kingdom of God is within you and is the dominion of God in the
conscience and spirit of the mind. . . .  This Kingdom of Christ is
capable of subsisting and being managed inwardly in the minds of His
people, in a hidden state concealed from the world.  By the power
thereof, the inward senses, or eyes of the mind are opened and awakened
to the drawing of them up to a heavenly converse, catching and carrying
up the soul to the throne of God and to the knowledge of the life that is
hid with Christ in God.  Those that are in this Kingdom, and in whom the
power of it is, _are fitted to fly with the Church into the wilderness,
and to continue in such a solitary, dispersed, desolate condition till
God call them out of it.  They have wells and springs opened to them in
this wilderness, whence they draw the waters of salvation, without being
in bondage to the life of sense_."[22]

He was only twenty-two years of age when, "for conscience' sake" and "in
the sweete peace of God," he left England and threw in his lot with the
young colony in Massachusetts Bay.  At twenty-three he was {274} Governor
of the Colony and found himself plunged into a maelstrom of politics,
Indian wars, and ecclesiastical quarrels which would have tried even a
veteran like John Winthrop.  It was here in Massachusetts that the lines
of his religious thought first come clearly into view, if any of Vane's
religious ideas can ever properly be called "clear."  The controversy in
the Massachusetts Colony (1636-1638) was initiated and led by Anne
Hutchinson, and was, in the phraseology of that period, an issue between
"a Covenant of Works" and "a Covenant of Grace," which was a
seventeenth-century way of stating the contrast between a religion
historically revealed and completely expressed in an infallible Book on
the one hand, and, on the other, a religion primarily based on the
eternal nature of God and man, and on the fact of immediate revelation
and communication between the God of Grace and the needy soul.[23]
Governor Vane aligned himself with the Hutchinson party and was in
sympathy with this second type of religion, the religion of inward
experience, the immediate conscious realization of God, which, in the
terminology of the times, was called "the Covenant of Grace."[24]
Absorbed as he was for the next fifteen years after his return from
America in momentous public affairs, he had no opportunity to give
expression to the religious ideas which were forming in his mind.  During
his "retirement" after his break with Cromwell, he wrote two books which
give us the best light we can hope to get on his religious views--_The
Retired Man's Meditations_ (1655), and _A Pilgrimage into the Land of
Promise_ (1664), written in prison in 1662.

Baxter complained that his Doctrines were "so clowdily formed and
expressed that few could understand them,"[25] and the modern reader,
however much time and patience he bestows upon Vane's books, is forced to
agree with Baxter.  Vane acknowledges himself that his {275} thought is
"knotty and abstruce."  In religious matters his mind was always
labouring, without success, to find a clear guiding clue through a maze
and confusion of ideas, which fascinated him, and he allowed his mind to
get lost in what Sir Thomas Browne calls "wingy mysteries."  He had no
sound principle of Scripture interpretation, but allowed his untrained
and unformed imagination to run wild.  Texts in profusion from Genesis to
Revelation lie in undigested masses in his books.  He had evidently read
Jacob Boehme, but, if so, he had only become more "dowdy" by the reading,
for he has not seized and appreciated Boehme's constructive thoughts,
and, at least in his later period and in his last book, he is floundering
under the heavy weight of millenarian ideas, which do not harmonize well
with his occasional spiritual insights of an ever-growing revelation to
man through the eternal Word who in all ages voices Himself within the
soul.  He was an extraordinary complex of vague mysticism and astute

In one matter he was throughout his life both consistent and clear,
namely, in the advocacy of freedom of conscience in religion.  He put
himself squarely on a platform of toleration in his early controversy
with Winthrop.[26]  His friend Roger Williams in later life heard him
make "a heavenly speech" in Parliament in which he said: "Why should the
labours of any be suppressed, if sober, though never so different?  We
now profess to seek God, we desire to see light!"[27]  Throughout his
parliamentary career he stood side by side with Cromwell in the difficult
effort, which only partly succeeded, to secure scope for all honest
religious opinion.  Finally, in _The Retired Man's Meditations_, he
wrote: "We are bound to understand by this terme [the Rule of Magistracy]
the proper sphere, bounds and limits of that office _which is not to
intrude itself into the office and proper concerns of Christ's inward
government and rule in the {276} conscience_."  After defining the
magistrate's proper functions in the affairs of the external life, he
then adds: "The more illuminated the Magistrate's conscience and judgment
is, as to natural justice and right, by the knowledge of God and
communications of Light from Christ, the better qualified he is to
execute his office."[28]

The central idea of his religious thought--though it never completely
penetrated the fringes of his mind--was the reality of the living Word of
God, the self-revealing character of God, who is an immediate, inward
Teacher, who is His own evidence and demonstration, and who has, Vane
testifies, "experimentally obtained a large entrance and reception in my
heart as a seed there sown."[29]  This living Word is not to be confused
with the Scriptures, which are an outward testimony to the inner Word--an
external way to the "unveiled and naked beauty of the Word itself," who
is Spirit and Life.[30]  In the long process of self-revelation through
the living Word a temporal universe has been created by emanations in
time, a universe double in its nature, first a deeper, invisible universe
of light, of angels and exalted spirits, then a visible and material and
"animalish" world, a shadow of the invisible world.[31]  At the top of
the order, man was created, uniting both the visible and the invisible
worlds in one being.  Man thus in himself is in miniature a double world,
a world of light and spirit and a world of shadow.  Two seeds, as Boehme
had already taught, are always working in man, and his native free-will
determines the course of his destiny.  In his first test, man fell,
though "the tree of life," which was a visible type of Christ, was before
his eyes in Paradise, but this event was only the beginning of the long
human drama, and the real history of the race is the story of the stages
and dispensations of the living Word of God, educating, regenerating, and
spiritualizing man, and bringing him to the height of his spiritual


In the first stage of this divine pedagogy, man has the Word of God
within himself "as a lampe or light in his mind, manifesting itself to
inward senses, assisted by the ministry of angels."  This is the period
of "conditional covenant," under which man's spiritual life depends on
"obedience to the inward operations of this Word," and those that obey
are made "Children of the Light," and attain a forward-looking
apprehension of the coming Son.[32]

The second degree of glory--"a more excellent and near approach to the
sight of the Son Himself"--is the training stage under the written word,
which makes wise unto salvation.  This is a dispensation of discipline,
reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, and it culminates in
the manifestation of Grace in Jesus Christ, who is the Root of a new
race.  There are two ways of using the ministry of Grace in Jesus
Christ--on the lower level as mere "restoration-work" and on the higher
level as "re-creation into new life."  Those who apprehend Christ on the
lower level, as simply a new law-giver, do not get beyond the spirit of
bondage and do not succeed in attaining an immutable and incorruptible
nature.  Those, however, who are born from within by the immortal and
incorruptible Seed of God are "changed from their wavering unstable
power" into an inward likeness to God, into a love that binds man's
spirit into union with God's Spirit, into "steadfast and unmoveable
delight in goodness" and "fixed and unshaken averseness to sin and

The third and final stage of glory, the full dispensation of the
Spirit--when "the whole creation will be restored to its primitive purity
and to the glorious liberty of sons of God"--will be the thousand years'
reign of Christ to which, Vane believed, both the outward and inward Word

It is not easy to see how a man of Vane's mental and moral calibre, who
had himself, as he tells us in his scaffold speech, been "brought home to
himself by {278} God's wonderful, rich and free Grace, revealing His Son
in me that I might be a partaker of eternal life," and who had all his
life held that there is an eternal Word and Seed of God working both
without and within to bring men to their complete spiritual stature,
should be unwilling to trust the operation of this divine Word to finish
what He had begun, and should resort to a cataclysmic event of a new
order for the final stage.  We of this later and more scientific age
must, however, speak with some caution of the idealistic dreams and
visions and glowing expectations of men, who in their deepest souls
believed that God was a living, acting God who, in ways past finding out,
intervened in the affairs of men and fulfilled His purposes of good.
"God is almighty," Vane said once in a Parliamentary speech.  "Will you
not trust Him with the consequences?  He that has unsettled a monarchy of
so many descents, in peaceable times, and brought you to the top of your
liberties, though He drive you for a while into the wilderness, He will
bring you back.  He is a wiser workman than to reject His work."

George Fox, in 1657, was "moved of ye Lord to speake to him of ye true
Light," having heard that "Henery Vane has much enquired after mee."  Fox
told him, in his usual fashion, "howe yt Christ had promised to his
disciples to sende ym ye holy ghoast, ye spiritt of truth which shoulde
leade ym into all truth which wee [Friends] witnessed and howe yt ye
grace of God which brought salvation had appeared unto all men and was ye
saintes teacher in ye Apostles days & soe it was nowe."  Vane's comment
on the Quaker's message was: "None of all this doth reach to my
experiens," and Fox, in his plain straightforward manner, said: "Thou
hast knowne somethinge formerly; but now there is a mountaine of earth &
imaginations uppe in thee & from that rises a smoake which has darkened
thy braine: & thou art not ye man as thou wert formerly. . . .  I was
moved of ye Lord to sett ye Seede Christ Jesus over his heade!"[35]


Clarendon was more charitable toward Vane than was Fox, who never deals
gently with persons who approach his point of view and yet miss it.  The
former, declaring that Vane's writings lack "his usual clearness and
ratiocination," and that "in a crowd of very easy words the sense was too
hard to find out," yet concludes to give the furnace-tried statesman the
benefit of the doubt: "I was of opinion that the subject was of so
delicate a nature that it required another kind of preparation of mind,
and perhaps another kind of diet, than men are ordinarily supplied

There can, at any rate, be no doubt of Vane's honesty or of his loyalty
to the Light within him.  Standing face to face with death, he told his
strange audience that he had put everything that he prized in the world
to hazard for the sake of obeying the best Light which God had granted
him, and he added these impressive words: "I do earnestly persuade all
people rather to suffer the highest contradiction from men, than disobey
God by contradicting the Light of God in their own conscience."


Peter Sterry was born in Surrey, early in the seventeenth century, and
entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1629, graduating B.A. in 1633 and
M.A. in 1637.  Emmanuel College had been founded during Elizabeth's reign
(1584) by one of her statesmen, Sir Walter Mildmay, for the especial
encouragement of Calvinistic theology, and it was the most important
intellectual nursery of the great Puritan movement in England.  During
Sterry's University period there was a remarkable group of tutors and
fellows gathered in Emmanuel College.  Foremost among them was Tuckney,
who was tutor to Benjamin Whichcote the founder of the school of
Cambridge Platonists, or "Latitude-Men," and Whichcote himself was at
Emmanuel College {280} throughout Sterry's period, graduating M.A. the
same year that Sterry graduated B.A.

Sterry was a thorough-going Platonist in his type of thought and had much
in common with Henry More, whose writings were "divinely pleasant" to him
and whom he calls "a prophet" of the spiritual unity of the universe, and
with Ralph Cudworth, the spiritual philosopher, though he finds "somewhat
to regret" in the work of both these contemporary Cambridge
Platonists.[37]  Sterry is not usually reckoned among the Cambridge
Platonists, but there is no reason why he should not be included in that
group.  He was trained in the University which was the natural home of
the movement, he read the authors most approved by the members of this
school, and his own message is penetrated with the spirit and ideals of
these seventeenth-century Platonists.  His writings abound with
references to Plato and Plotinus, with occasional references to Proclus
and Dionysius the Areopagite; and the world-conceptions of this composite
school of philosophers, as they were revived by the Renaissance, are
fundamental to his thought.  He was thoroughly acquainted with the
writings of Ficino, and quotes him among his approved masters.  He had
also profoundly studied the great mystics and was admirably equipped
intellectually to be the interpreter of a far different type of
Christianity from that of the current theologies.

He became intimate in his public career with Sir Harry Vane, and there
are signs of mutual influence in their writings, which gave occasion for
Richard Baxter's pun on their names: "Vanity and sterility were never
more happily conjoined."[38]  Upon the execution of Charles I., Sterry
was voted a preacher to the Council of State with a salary of one hundred
pounds a year, which was soon after doubled and lodgings at Whitehall
added.  He generally preached before Cromwell on Sundays, and on every
other Thursday at Whitehall, frequently before {281} the Lords and
Commons.  A number of his sermons were printed "by Order of the House,"
and enjoyed a wide popularity, though their great length would make them
impossible sermons to-day.  Cromwell evidently appreciated his preaching
very highly and felt no objection to the mystical strain that runs
through all his sermons.  He had many points of contact with Milton, and
may have been for a period his assistant as Latin Secretary.[39]  He was
devotedly fond of music, art, and poetry, and he held similar views to
Milton regarding the Presbyterian system.  He naturally fell out of
public notice after the Restoration, and quietly occupied himself with
literary work, until his death in 1672.  The main material for a study of
his "message" will be found in his three posthumous Books: _A Discourse
of the Freedom of the Will_ (1675); _Rise, Race and Royalty of the
Kingdom of God in the Soul of Man_ (1683), and _Appearance of God to Man
in the Gospel_ (1710).[40]  His prose style is lofty and often marked
with singular beauty, though he is almost always too prolix for our
generation, and too prone to divide his discourse into heads and
sub-heads, and sub-divisions of sub-heads.  Here is a specimen passage of
his dealing with a topic which Plato and the great poets have often
handled: "Imagine this Life as an Island, surrounded by a Sea of
Darkness, beyond which lies the main Land of Eternity.  Blessed is he who
can raise himself to such a Pitch as to look off this Island, beyond that
Darkness to the utmost bound of things.  He thus sees his way before and
behind him.  What shall trouble him on his Twig of Life, on which he is
like a bird but now alighted, from a far Region, from whence again he
shall immediately take his flight.  Thou cam'st through a Darkness hither
but yesterday when thou wert born.  Why then shouldst thou not readily
and cheerfully return through the same Darkness back again to those
everlasting Hills?"[41]  I will give one more {282} specimen passage
touching the divine origin and return of the soul: "At our Birth, which
is the morning of life, our Soul and Body are joined to this fleshly
Image as Horses are put into a Waggon, to which they are fastened by
their Harnes and Traces.[42]  The Body is as the forehorse, but the Soul
is the filly which draws most and bears the chief weight.  All the day
long of this life we draw this Waggon heavy laden with all sorts of
temptations and troubles thorow deep ways of mire and sand.  This only is
our comfort that the Divine Will, which is Love itself in its perfection,
as a Hand put forth from Heaven thorow a Cloud, at our Birth put us into
this Waggon and governs us all the day.  In the evening of our life, at
the end of the day, Death is the same Divine Will as a naked Hand of pure
Love, shining forth from an open Heaven of clear light and glory, taking
our Soul and Body out of the Waggon and Traces of this fleshly Image and
leading them immediately into their Inn."[43]

Everything in the universe, he believes, is double.  The things that are
seen are copies--often faint and shadowy--of That which is.  Every
particular thing "below" corresponds to an eternal reality "above."  Even
those things which appear thin and shallow possess an infinite depth, or
we may just as well say an infinite height.  "Didst thou ever descry," he
asks, "a glorious eternity in a winged moment of Time?  Didst thou ever
see a bright Infinite in the narrow point of an Object?  Then thou
knowest what Spirit means--that spire-top whither all things ascend
harmoniously, where they meet and sit connected in an unfathomed Depth of
Life."[44]  And the immense congeries of things and events, even "the
jarring and tumultuous contrarieties," "through the whole world, through
the whole compass of time, through both the bright and the black Regions
of Life and Death," consent and melodize in one celestial music {283} and
perfect harmony of Divine purpose.[45]  "The stops and shakes make music
as well as the stroaks and sounds," even Death and Hell "are bound by a
gold chain with shining links of Love" to the throne of God.[46]

He outdoes even the "pillar" Quakers, his contemporaries in later life,
in his proclamation of a Divine Root and Seed in the soul of man.  In
words almost precisely like those which Barclay used later in his
_Apology_, he says: "There is a spiritual man that lies hid under the
natural man as seed under the ground,"[47] or, again, "go into thyself
beyond thy natural man, and thou shalt meet the Spirit of God."[48]
There is "something eternal," "a seminal infiniteness," in the soul, its
native Root and Bottom, consubstantial with it and inseparable from it.
"It lasts on through all forms, wearing them out, casting them off for
new forms, through which it manifests itself, until it finally brings us
back into Itself and becomes our only clothing."[49]  But though
"native," it is not a part or function of the natural, psychical man, it
is not of the "finite creature."  It is from above, a transcendent
Reality; it belongs to the eternal world and yet it is a Root of God
within, a point in the soul's abyss (or apex) unsevered from God, so that
one who knew the soul to its depths would know God.[50]  Beneath all the
wreck and ruin and havoc of sin it is still there, with its "glimpses of
immortal Beauty."  The prodigal who would return "home" must first return
to himself, to that divine Seed, "hid deep beneath the soil and dung,
beneath the darkness, deformity and deadness of its Winter-Season and
rise up in its proper Spring into pleasant flowers and fruits, as a
Garden of God."[51]  There is thus "a golden thread" which is always
there to guide the soul back home, through all the mazes of the world,
or, to use another of his figures, "Thou hast but to follow the stream of
Love, the Fountain of the Soul, if thou {284} wouldst be led to that Sea
which is the confluence of all the waters of Life, of all Truth, of all
Goodness, of all Joy, of all Beauty and Blessedness."[52]

The _Fullness_ of the juncture of God and Man is seen only in Christ.  In
Him, "God and Man are one, one Love, one Life, one Likeness."[53]  He is
the Pattern, the unspoiled Image, the Eternal Word, and He is, too, the
Head of our race.  In Him the Divine Spirit and the human spirit "are
twined into one."  "If you want to see God, then see Christ."[54]  If you
want to see what the Seed in us can blossom into when it is unhampered by
sin, again, see Christ.[55]  He is a Life-giving Spirit who can penetrate
other spirits, who broods over the soul as the creative Spirit brooded
over the waters, and who, when received, makes us radiant with _Love,
which is the only truth of religion_.

Sin is the mark and brand of our failure--it is our aberration from the
normal type as it is fully revealed in Christ.  "Nothing is so unnatural
as sin,"[56] nothing is so irrational, nothing so abnormal--it is always
a break from the unity of the divine Life, a movement towards isolation
and self-solitariness, a pursuit of narrowing desires, a missing of the
potential beauty and harmony of the Soul.[57]  But in every case, whether
it be Adam's or that of the last man who sinned, it is always an act of
free-will--"even in its most haggish shapes sin is the act of free-will."
Some strange contrary principle in us, something from a root alien to the
divine Root, makes civil war within us,[58] and though the Word of God's
eternal Love is ringing in our ears and though the gleams of divine
Beauty are shining in our eyes, we still walk away into "the barren
dessert of the world and forsake our proper habitation in the paradise of
God."[59]  There is no way back from the "barren dessert," without a
complete reversal of direction, a conversion: "He that will pass {285}
from the dismal depths of sin to the heights of strength and holiness
must make his first motion a conversion, a change from a descent to an
ascent, from going outward toward the circle to go inward towards the
centre"; there must be an _awakening_ so that the soul comes to see all
things in the light of their first Principle; a Birth through the Spirit
and a newness of life through the bubbling of the eternal Spring.[60]

The mighty event of re-birth is described by Sterry very much after the
manner of Schwenckfeld.  The new Seed, Christ Jesus, the divine Life
itself, comes into operation within the man, and the new-made man, raised
with Christ, is joined in Spirit with Him and lives henceforth not after
Adam but after Christ the Head of the spiritual Race.[61]  The shift of
direction, the complete reversal, however, does not mean "parting with
delights," or "putting on a sad and sour conversation"--on the contrary,
it means enlargement of soul and "a gainful addition of joy," the
discovery within of another world and a new kingdom.[62]

Like all this group of thinkers to whom he is kindred, Sterry makes a
sharp contrast between the Spirit and the letter, between what happens
within the soul and what is external to it.  The early stage of religion
is characterized by externals, and only after long processes of tutorship
and discipline does the soul learn how to live by the Seed of life and
Light of truth within.  The early stage is legalistic, during which the
person is "hedged about" with promises and threats, "walled in" with laws
and ordinances, "living in a perpetual alarm of fears," "shut up to
rules, retirements and forms"--but it is far better to serve God from
fear and by outward rules than not to serve Him at all.  The true way of
progress is to move up from fear and law to love and freedom, and from
outward rules to the discovery of a central Light of God, a Heavenly
Image, in the deeps of {286} one's own spirit--"real knowledge comes when
the Day Star rises in the heart."[63]  We pass from "notions" and "words"
to an inward power and a bubbling joy.  He calls the period of law and
letter a "baby-stage," "when we see truth as blear-eyed beholders."
Legal religion compared with the religion of the Spirit is "like a spark
struck from flint at midnight" compared with the sun; it is like "drawing
the waters of Grace, a bucketful at a time," when we might have "the
Spirit gushing as a living and perpetual Fountain."[64]  But God is so
good that He speaks to us in a variety of ways, and He lets us "spell His
name" with the alphabet, until we learn to know His own Voice.  Nature,
in the elements of visible creation, tells us of Him; Reason compels us
to recognize One who is First and Best, the All in all; the written word
cries in our ears that God is Love; but above these voices there is a
Principle within our own souls by which "God propagates His Life" in us,
and he who, in this love-way, has become a son knows God as
_Abba-Father_.[65]  We pray now with power, when this new Life of the
Spirit has come into us, and we pour our spirits out in
self-forgetfulness, "as a River pours itself into the sea, where it
loseth its own name and is known only as the waters of the Sea."[66]

He is always gentle in his account of other religions and other stages of
faith, and he sees good in all types, if only they help the soul to
hunger for the Eternal and do not cramp it.  "O that I had a hundred
mouths," he writes, "an hundred tongues, a Voice like the Voice of God
that rends Rocks, to cry to all sorts of Persons and Spirits in this Land
and in all the Christian World through the whole creation: 'Let all that
differ in Principles, Professions, Opinions and Forms, see the good there
is in each other'!"[67]

The world, busy with action and choosing for its historical study the men
who did things, has allowed {287} Peter Sterry to drop into oblivion and
his books to gather dust and cobwebs, but there was, I think, a Seed of
God in him, and he had a message for his age.  He sincerely endeavoured
to hand on the torch which in his youth at Cambridge had been kindled in
him by some other flame.  "When one candle is lighted," he beautifully
says, "we light many by it, and when God hath kindled the Life of His
glory in one man's Heart he often enkindles many by the flame of

[1] I have studied the "Familists," the "Anabaptists," the "Seekers," and
"Ranters," and some of the interesting religious characters, such as John
Saltmarsh, William Dell, and Gerard Winstanley, in my _Studies in
Mystical Religion_ (London, 1908).

[2] Oliver Cromwell's _Letters and Speeches_ (New York, 1900), i. p. 103.

[3] These three books were issued together in Latin under the title,
_Interiora Regni Dei_, in 1655 and in 1674, and in an English Collection
of Rous' Works under the title, _Treatises and Meditations_ (1657).

[4] _Mystical Marriage_, pp. 1-2.

[5] _Treatises and Meditations_, pp. 230-231.

[6] _Treatises and Meditations_, pp. 240 and 258.

[7] _Ibid._ p. 235.

[8] _The Heavenly Academy_, pp. 110-111.

[9] _Mystical Marriage_, p. 10.

[10] _Treatises and Meditations_, p. 496.

[11] _Mystical Marriage_, p. 10.

[12] _Ibid._ p. 16.

[13] _Ibid._ p. 193.

[14] Preface to _Mystical Marriage_.

[15] _Mystical Marriage_, p. 322.

[16] _The Heavenly Academy_, Preface, and _ibid._ p. 57.

[17] _Reliquiae Baxterianae_, i. p. 75.

[18] Clarendon, _History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars_ (Oxford, 1827),
p. 1581.

[19] Milton's sonnet _To Sir Henry Vane the Younger_.

[20] Burnet, _History of his Own Times_ (Airy ed.), i. p. 286.

[21] Pepys, _Diary_ (ed. by H. B. Wheatley, London, 1893), ii. p. 242.

[22] An Epistle to the Mystical Body of Christ on Earth.  The lines which
I have put in italics in the text clearly show the "seeker"-attitude.

[23] See my _Quakers in the American Colonies_ (1911), pp. 1-25.

[24] In his _Retired Man's Meditations_ he speaks of "Christ's rule in
the legal conscience" and "Christ's rule in the evangelical conscience,"
by which he means to contrast a religion founded on external performances
or historical events, and a religion founded on _events transacted in the
soul of the man himself_.

[25] _Reliquiae Baxterianae_, i. p. 75.

[26] See Vane's _A Brief Answer to a certain Declaration made of the
Intent and Equity of the Order of Court_, etc., in Hutchinson's
Collection of Original Papers.

[27] Preface to Williams' _Bloudy Tenet_.

[28] _The Retired Man's Meditations_, p. 388.  Italics mine.

[29] _Ibid._ Preface

[30] _Ibid._ chap. ii.

[31] _Ibid._ ii. chaps. iii. and iv.  See also _A Pilgrimage into the
Land of Promise_, pp. 1-3.

[32] _A Pilgrimage into the Land of Promise_, pp. 51-52.

[33] _Ibid._ pp. 55-56.

[34] _Retired Man's Meditations_, chap. xxvi.

[35] _Journal of George Fox_ (Cambridge ed.), i. pp. 313-314.

[36] _Animadversions on Cressy's Answer to Stillingfleet_ (1673), p. 59.

[37] See _A Discourse of the Freedom of the Will_ (1675), pp. 31-32.

[38] _Reliquiae Baxterianae_, i. p. 75.

[39] A Mr. Sterry was appointed Sept. 8, 1657, to assist Milton as Latin
Secretary (_Nat. Dict. of Biog. Art._ "Sterry").

[40] Besides the above named I have also used his Sermons on _The Clouds
in which Christ Comes_ (1648) and _The Spirits' Conviction of Sinne_

[41] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 8.

[42] There is, he thinks, an inner "body" which is as immortal as the
soul and which together with the soul is united to the body of
flesh--"the fleshly Image."

[43] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 435.

[44] _Ibid._ p. 24.  See also _ibid._  p. 5, and _Discourse_, p. 55.

[45] _Discourse_, pp. 30-35.  Also p. 161.

[46] _Ibid_. Preface, p. c 8, and _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 164.

[47] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 126.

[48] _Ibid._ p. 96.

[49] _Ibid._ pp. 4, 5, 6, 18-19.

[50] _Discourse_, pp. 67 and 77.

[51] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, Preface, p. b 2.  See also pp. 362 and

[52] _Discourse_, Preface, pp. a and c 6, and _Rise, Race and Royalty_,
p. 101.

[53] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 78.

[54] _Ibid._ p. 68.

[55] _Ibid._ pp. 95 and 184.  Also _Appearance of God_, pp. 239 and 251.

[56] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 73.

[57] _Ibid._ pp. 16-18 and 141, and _Discourse_, pp. 141-142.

[58] _Appearance of God_, p. 91.

[59] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 359.

[60] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, pp. 2, 23, and 466.

[61] See especially _Appearance of God_, pp. 74-75 and 480.

[62] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, pp. 107-109.

[63] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, pp. 46-47 and 467.

[64] _Ibid._ pp. 56-60.

[65] _Ibid._ pp. 63-67.

[66] _Appearance of God_, pp. 130-131.

[67] _Discourse_, Preface, p. a 6.

[68] _Rise, Race and Royalty_, p. 39.




The type of Christianity which I have been calling "spiritual religion,"
that is, religion grounded in the nature of Reason, finds, at least in
England, its noblest expression in the group of men, sometimes called
"Cambridge Platonists," and sometimes "Latitude-Men," or simply
"Latitudinarians."  These labels were all given them by their critics and
opponents, and were used to give the impression that the members of this
group or school were introducing and advancing a type of Christianity too
broad and humanistic to be safe, and one grounded on Greek philosophy
rather than on Scripture and historical Revelation.[2]

They were, however, undertaking to do in their generation precisely what
the long line of spiritual interpreters had for more than a century been
endeavouring, through pain and suffering, misunderstanding and fierce
persecution, to work out for humanity--a religion of life and reality, a
religion rooted in the eternal nature of the Spirit of God and the spirit
of man, a religion as authoritative and unescapable "as mathematical

It is not possible to establish direct connection between the leaders of
this school and the writings of the successive {289} spiritual Reformers
on the Continent whom we have been studying in this volume, though the
parallelism of ideas and of spirit is very striking.  Both groups were
powerfully influenced by the humanistic movement, both groups drew upon
that profound searching of the soul which they found in the works of
Plato and Plotinus, and both groups read the same mystical writers.
These things would partly account for the similarities, but there was
almost certainly a closer and more direct connection, though we cannot
trace it in the case of Whichcote as we can in that of John Everard of
Clare College.  There has been a tendency to explain Whichcote's views
through the influence of Arminius and Arminians; but he himself denied
that he had been influenced by Arminius,[4] while his disciple, Nathaniel
Culverwel, speaks disapprovingly of Arminianism.[5]  There are no
distinct allusions in Whichcote to Jacob Boehme, and the former's
conception of the Universe is vastly different from the latter's, but
their vital and ethical view of the way of salvation is almost exactly
the same, and the constant insistence of Whichcote and his disciples that
Heaven and Hell are primarily conditions of life in the person himself
has, as we know, a perfect parallel in Boehme.

The Cambridge scholars were much better equipped for their task than any
of the men whom we have so far studied, their gravest difficulty being an
overweighting of learning which they sometimes failed to fuse with their
spiritual vision and to transmute into power.  But with all their
propension to learning and their love of philosophy, they were primarily
and fundamentally _religious_--they were disciples of Christ rather than
disciples of Plato and Plotinus.  Bishop Burnet's testimony to the
positive spiritual contribution of this movement, now under
consideration, and to the genuineness of the religious life of these men
is well worth quoting.  After describing the arid condition of his time,
the prevailing tendency of ministers to seek pomp and luxury, and the
apparent thinness of the preaching of the day, he adds: "Some {290} few
exceptions are to be made; but so few, that if _a new set of men had not
appeared of another stamp_, the Church had quite lost her esteem over the
nation."  He then designates this group of Cambridge scholars.  Speaking
particularly of Whichcote, he says: "Being disgusted with the dry
systematical way of those times, he studied to raise those who conversed
with him to a nobler set of thoughts, and to consider religion as _a seed
of a deiform nature_ (to use one of his own phrases).  In order to this,
he set young students much on reading the ancient philosophers, chiefly
Plato, Tully and Plotin, and on considering the Christian religion as a
doctrine sent from God, both to elevate and sweeten human nature, in
which he was a great example, as well as a wise and kind instructor.
Cudworth carried this on with a great strength of genius and a vast
compass of learning."[6]

These "Latitude-Men" were Puritan in temper and in intensity of
conviction; they were all trained in the great nursery of Puritan faith,
Emmanuel College, and they were on intimate terms with many of the men
who were the creators of the outer and inner life of the Commonwealth,
but in their intellectual sympathies they went neither with the sectaries
of the time--"the squalid sluttery of fanatic conventicles," as S. P.
puts it--nor with the prevailing Puritan theology.  They read Calvin and
Beza with diligence, at least Whichcote did, but their thought did not
move along the track which the great Genevan had constructed.  They
discovered another way of approach which made the old way and the old
battles seem to them futile.  Instead of beginning with the eternal
mysteries of the inscrutable divine Will, they began with the fundamental
nature of man, always deep and difficult to fathom, but for ever the
ground and basis of all that can be known in the field of religion.
Their interest was thus psychological rather than theological.  It is
their constant assertion that nothing is more intrinsically rational than
religion, and they focus all their energies to make this point clear and


They came to their intellectual development in the period when Hobbes was
formulating one of the most powerful and subtle types of materialism that
has ever been presented.  They were, too, contemporaries of Descartes,
and they followed with intense interest the attempt of the great
Frenchman to put philosophy in possession of a method as adequate for its
problems as the method of geometry was for the mathematical sciences.
None of the "Platonists" was possessed of the same rare quality of genius
as either of these two great philosophers, but they saw with clear
insight the full bearing of both systems.  They heartily disapproved of
Hobbes' materialism and shuddered at its nakedness.  They were too much
committed to the ideals of Humanism to be positive opponents of
Descartes' rational formulation of all things outer and inner, but they
never felt at home with the vast clock-like mechanism to which his system
reduced the universe, and they set themselves, in contrast, to produce a
religious philosophy which would guarantee freedom, would give wider
scope for the inner life, would show the kinship of God and man and put
morality and religion--to their mind for ever one and inseparable--on a
foundation as immovable as the pillars of the universe.

The first of this group, the pathbreaker of the movement, was Benjamin
Whichcote, though it must not be forgotten that he had noble forerunners
in John Hales, William Chillingworth, and Jeremy Taylor.  The
biographical details which have survived him are very limited.  A great
teacher's life is so largely interior and so devoid of outward events
that there is usually not much to record.[7]  He was descended from "an
ancient and honourable family," and was born at Whichcote-Hall, in the
parish of Stoke, the 11th of March, 1609.  He was admitted in 1626 to
Emmanuel College--"which was looked on from its first foundation as a
Seminary of Puritans"--and was there under the tutorship of two great
Puritan teachers.  Dr. Anthony Tuckney and Thomas Hill, {292} both of
whom were for a time associated with John Cotton, afterwards the famous
preacher of colonial Boston.  He was ordained both deacon and priest in
1636, was made Provost of King's College, Cambridge, in 1644, "went-out"
Doctor of Divinity in 1649, and for twenty years gave the afternoon
Lecture on Sundays at Trinity Church, Cambridge.  At the Restoration he
was deprived of the Provostship by order of the King, which brought his
university career to an end.  He was made curate of St. Anne's,
Blackfriars, in 1662, and later received from the Crown the vicarage of
St. Laurence Jewry, where he preached twice each week until his death in

He once said in one of his sermons: "Had we a man among us, that we could
produce, that did live an exact Gospel life; had we a man that was really
gospelized; were the Gospel a life, a soul, and a spirit to him . . . he
would be the most lovely and useful person under heaven.  Christianity
would be recommended to the world by his spirit and conversation."[8]
Dr. Whichcote himself was, as far as one can judge from the impression
which he made on his contemporaries, such a "gospelized" man.  He
"recommended religion," as Dr. Salter says, by his life and writings, and
showed it "in its fairest and truest light as the highest perfection of
human nature."[9]  He seemed to be "emancipated" when he came back to
Cambridge as Provost of King's College, and he devoted himself to
"spreading and propagating a more generous sett of opinions" than those
which were generally proclaimed in the sermons of the time, and "the
young Masters of Arts soon cordially embraced" his message.[10]

This "new sett of opinions," proclaimed in Trinity Church with vision and
power, soon disturbed those who were of the older and sterner schools of
thought.  "My heart hath bin much exercised about you," his old friend
and tutor, Dr. Tuckney, wrote to him in 1651, "especially since your
being Vice-Chancellour, I have seldom heard you preach, but that
something hath bin delivered {293} by you, and that so authoritatively
and with big words, sometimes of 'divinest reason' and sometimes of 'more
than mathematical demonstration,' that hath much grieved me."[11]  The
novelty of Dr. Whichcote's "opinions" comes more clearly into view as the
letter proceeds: "Your Discourse about Reconciliation that 'it doth not
operate on God, but on us' is Divinity [theology] that my heart riseth
against. . . .  To say that the ground of God's reconciliation is from
anything in us; and not from His free grace, freely justifying the
ungodly, is to deny one of the fundamental truths of the Gospel that
derives from heaven."[12]

The correspondence which followed this frank letter supplies us with the
clearest light we possess, or can possess, upon Whichcote's inner life
and type of religion.  He replied to his old friend, whom he had always
held "in love, reverence and esteem," that he had noticed of late that
"our hearts have not seemed to be together when our persons have
bin,"[13] "but," he adds, "your letter meets with no guilt in my
conscience."  "My head hath bin possessed with this truth [which I am
preaching] these manie years--I am not late nor newe in this
persuasion."[14]  He then proceeds to quote from his notes exactly what
he had said on the subject of reconciliation in his recent Discourse.  It
was as follows: "Christ doth not save us by onely doing for us _without_
us [_i.e._ historically]: yea, we come at that which Christ hath done for
us with God, by what He hath done for us _within_ us. . . .  With God
there cannot be reconciliation without our becoming God-like. . . .  They
deceeve and flatter themselves extreamly; who think of reconciliation
with God by means of a Saviour acting upon God in their behalfe and _not
also working in or upon them to make them God-like_," and he says that he
added in the spoken sermon, what was not in his notes, that a theology
which taught a salvation without inward moral transformation was
"Divinity minted in Hell."[15]


Dr. Tuckney in his second letter becomes still more specific.  He admits
that Whichcote's "persuasion of truth" is not "late or newe"; he
remembers, on the latter's first coming to Cambridge, "I thought you then
somwhat cloudie and obscure in your expressions."  What he now notices
with regret is the tendency in his old pupil to "cry-up reason rather
than faith"; to be "too much immersed in Philosophy and Metaphysics"; to
be devoted to "other authours more than Scripture, and Plato and his
schollars above others"; to be producing "a kinde of moral Divinitie,
onlie with a little tincture of Christ added"; to put "inherent
righteousness above imputed righteousness" and "love above faith," and to
use "some broad expressions as though in this life wee may be above
ordinances"; and finally he notices that since Whichcote has "cast his
sermons in this mould," they have become "less edifying" and "less
affecting the heart."[16]  He thinks, too, that he has discovered the
foreign source of the infection: "Sir, those whose footsteppes I have
observed [in your sermons] were the Socinians and Arminians; the latter
whereof, I conceive, you have bin everie where reading in their workes
and most largely in their Apologie."[17]

"In a thousand guesses," Whichcote answers this last charge, in his
second letter, "you could not have bin farther off from the truth of the
thing."  "What is added of Socinians and Arminians, in respect of mee, is
groundless.  I may as well be called a Papist, or Mahometan; Pagan or
Atheist.  And trulie, Sir, you are wholly mistaken in the whole course of
my studies.  You say you find me largelie in their _Apologia_; to my
knowledge I never saw or heard of the book before! . . .  I have not read
manie bookes; but I have studied a fewe: meditation and invention hath
bin my life rather than reading; and trulie I have more read Calvine and
Perkins and Beza than all the bookes, authors and names you mention.  _I
have alwaies expected reason for what men say_, less valuing persons and
authorities in the stating and {295} resolving of truth, therefore have
read them most where I have found itt.  I have not looked at anie thing
as more than an opinion which hath not bin underpropt by convincing
reason or plaine and satisfactorie Scripture."[18]

As to the charge that he has become immersed in philosophy, Whichcote
modestly replies: "I find the Philosophers that I read good as farre as
they go: and it makes me secretlie blush before God when I find eyther my
head, heart or life challenged by them, which I must confess, I often
find."  To the criticism that he "cries-up reason," he answers that he
has always found in his own experience that "that preaching has most
commanded my heart which has most illuminated my head."  "Everie
Christian," he insists, "must think and believe as he finds cause.  Shall
he speak in religion otherwise than he thinks?  Truth is truth, whoever
hath spoken itt or howsoever itt hath bin abused.  If this libertie be
not allowed to the Universitie wherefore do wee study?  We have nothing
to do butt to get good memories and to learn by heart."[19]  Finally, to
the impression expressed by Dr. Tuckney that his sermons are less
edifying and heart-searching, he replies with dignity and evidently with
truth: "I am sure I have bin all along well understood by persons of
honest heartes, but of mean place and education: and I have had the
blessing of the soules of such at their departure out of this world.  I
thanke God, my conscience tells me, that I have not herein affected
worldlie shewe, but the real service of truth."[20]

We need not follow further this voluminous correspondence in which two
high-minded and absolutely honest men reveal the two diverging lines of
their religious faith.  To the man whose mind found its spiritual footing
alone on the solid ground of Calvin's unmodified system, the new
"persuasion" was sure to seem "cloudie and obscure"; and no number of
letters could convince him that the new message presented a safe way of
faith and life.  And no amount of criticism or advice could change the
other man who found it necessary for him to have {296} reasonable cause
for what he was to believe and live by.  Whichcote closes the friendly
debate with some very positive announcements that for him religion must
be, and must remain, something which guarantees its reality in the soul
itself: "Christ must be inwardlie felt as a principle of divine life
within us."[21]  "What is there in man," again he says, "more
considerable than that which declares God's law to him, pleads for the
observation of it, accuseth for the breach and excuseth upon the
performance of it?"[22]  And finally he informs his friend that each of
them must be left free to follow his own light: "If we differ there is no
help for it: Wee must forbear one another. . . .  If you conceeve
otherwise of me than as a lover and pursuer after truth, you think
amisse. . . .  Wherein I fall short of your expectation, I fail for
truth's sake."[23]

The central idea in Whichcote's teaching, which runs like a gulf-stream
through all his writings, is his absolute certainty that there is
something in the "very make of man"[24] which links the human spirit to
the Divine Spirit and which thus makes it as natural for man to be
religious as it is for him to seek food for his body.  There is a
"seminal principle," "a seed of God," "something that comes immediately
from God," in the very structure of man's inner nature,[25] and this
structural possession makes it as natural and proper for man's mind to
tend toward God, "the centre of immortal souls," as it is for heavy
things to tend toward their centre.[26]  "God," he elsewhere says, "is
more inward to us than our own souls," and we are more closely "related
to God than to anything in the world."[27]  The soul is to God as the
flower is to the sun, which opens when the sun is there and shuts when
the sun is absent,[28] though this figure breaks down, because, in
Whichcote's view, God never withdraws and is never absent.  This idea
that the spiritual life is absolutely rational--a normal function {297}
of man's truest nature--receives manifold expression in Whichcote's
_Aphorisms_, which constitute a sort of seventeenth-century Book of
Proverbs, or collection of Wisdom-sayings.  He had absorbed one great
saying from the original Book of Proverbs, which he uses again and again,
and which became the sacred text for all the members of the school--"the
spirit of man is a candle of the Lord."[29]  This Proverb is for
Whichcote a key that fits every door of life, and the truth which it
expresses is for him the basal truth of religion, as the following
Aphorisms will sufficiently illustrate:

"Were it not for light we should not know we had such a sense as sight:
Were it not for God we should not know the Powers of our souls which have
an appropriation to God."[30]

"God's image is in us and we belong to Him."[31]

"There is a capacity in man's soul, larger than can be answered by
anything of his own, or of any fellow-creature."[32]

"There is nothing so intrinsically rational as Religion is."[33]

"The Truths of God are connatural to the soul of man, and the soul of man
makes no more resistance to them than the air does to light."[34]

"Religion makes us live like men."[35]

"We worship God best when we resemble Him most."[36]

"Religion is intelligible, rational and accountable: It is not our burden
but our privilege."[37]

Something is always wrong, he thinks, if Religion becomes a burden: "It
is imperfection in Religion to _drudge_ in it, and every man drudges in
Religion if he takes it up as a task and carries it as a burden."[38]
The moment we follow "the divine frame and temper" of our inmost nature
we find our freedom, our health, our power, and our joy; as one of the
Aphorisms puts it: {298} "When we make nearer approaches to God, we have
more use of ourselves."[39]

This view is beautifully expressed in Whichcote's Prayer printed at the
end of the _Aphorisms_: "Most Blessed God, the Creator and Governor of
the World; the only true God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We
thy Creatures were made to seek and find, to know and reverence, to serve
and obey, to honour and glorify, to imitate and enjoy Thee; who art the
Original of our Beings, and the Centre of our Rest.  Our Reasonable
Nature hath a peculiar Reservation for Thee; and our Happiness consists
in our Assimilation to, and Employment about, Thee.  The nearer we
approach unto Thee, the more free we are from Error, Sin, and Misery; and
the farther off we are from Thee, the farther off we are from Truth,
Holiness, and Felicity.  Without Thee, we are sure of nothing; we are not
sure of ourselves: but through Thee, there is Self-Enjoyment in the mind,
when there is nothing but Confusion, and no Enjoyment of the World."

Religion is thus thought of as the normal way of life, as the true
fulfilment of human nature and as complete inward health.  "Holiness," he
says, "is our right constitution and temper, our inward health and
strength."[40]  Sin and selfishness carry a man below the noble Creation
which God made in him, and Religion is the return to the true nature and
capacity of God's Creation in man: "The Gospel, inwardly received, dyes
and colours the soul, settles the Temper and Constitution of it and is
restorative of our Nature. . . .  It is the restitution of us to the
state of our Creation, to the use of our Principles, to our healthful
Constitution and to Acts that are connatural to us."[41]

As soon as man returns to "his own healthful Constitution" and to "the
state of his Creation," he finds that Religion has its evidence and
assurance in itself.  God made man for moral truths, "before He declared
{299} them on Sinai," or "writ them in the Bible,"[42] and so soon as the
soul comes into "conformity to its original,"[43] that is "into
conformity to God according to its inward measure and capacity,"[44] and
lives a kind of life that is "self-same with its own Reason,"[45] the
Divine Life manifests itself in that man and kindles his spirit into a
blazing candle of the Lord.  Those who are spiritual "find and feel
within themselves Divine Suggestions, Motions and Inspirations; . . . a
light comes into the Mind, a still Voice."[46]

This direct and inward revelation is, however, for Whichcote never "a
revelation of new matter," never a way to the discovery of truths of a
private nature.  The revelations which the guidance of the Divine Spirit
breathes forth within our souls are always truths of universal
significance, truths that are already implicitly revealed in the Bible,
truths that carry their own self-evidence to any rational mind.  But
these revelations, these discoveries of what God means and what life may
become, are possible only to those who prepare themselves for inward
converse and who centre down to the deeper Roots of their being: "Unless
a man takes himself sometimes out of the world, by retirement and
self-reflection, he will be in danger of losing _himself_ in the
world."[47]  Where God is not discovered, something is always at fault
with man.  "As soon as he is abstracted from the noise of the world,
withdrawn from the call of the Body, having the doors of the senses shut,
the Divine Life readily enters and reveals Itself to the inward Eye that
is prepared for it."[48]  "Things that are connatural in the way of
Religion," he once said, "the Illapses and Breakings in of God upon us,
require a mind that is not subject to Passion but is in a serene and
quiet Posture, where there is no tumult of Imagination. . . .  There is
no genuine and proper effect of Religion where the Mind is not composed,
sedate and calm."[49]


There is no tendency in Whichcote to undervalue Scripture.  Inward
revelations are for him not a substitute for the Bible nor an appendix to
it.  Through the Divine Light in the soul and through Scripture, Divine
communications are imparted to men.  These he calls respectively "truth
of first inscription" and "truth of after-revelation,"[50] and they no
more conflict than two luminaries in the physical world conflict.
"Morals," he says, "are inforced by Scripture, but they were before
Scripture: they were according to the nature of God,"[51] and, as he
always claims, according to the deiform nature in man's reason.[52]  As
soon as a person interprets the Light within him--the candle of the Lord
in his own heart--by the Light of revelation his inward illumination
becomes clearer; and contrariwise, as soon as one brings an enlightened
spirit to the Bible its message becomes clarified--"the Spirit within
leads to a right apprehension of those things which God hath
declared."[53]  But Truth is always vastly more than "Notions," or
conceptual formulation of doctrine.  "Religion," as he says in his
wisdom-proverbs, "is not a System of Doctrine, an observance of Modes or
a Form of Words"--it is "a frame and temper of mind; it shows itself in a
Life and Action conformable to the Divine Will"; it is "our resemblance
to God."[54]  Bare knowledge does not sanctify any man; "Men of holy
Hearts and Lives best understand holy Doctrines."[55]  We always deceive
ourselves if we do not get beyond even such high-sounding words as
conversion, regeneration, divine illumination, and mortification; if we
do not get beyond names and notions of every sort, into a real holiness
of life that is a conformity of nature to our original.  His most
important passage on this point is one which is found in his Sermon on
the text: "Of this man's seed hath God, according to His promise, raised
up unto {301} Israel a Saviour, Jesus" (Acts xiii. 23).  "Religion," he
says in this passage, "is not satisfied in Notions; but doth, in deed and
in reality, come to nothing unless it be in us not only matter of
Knowledge and Speculation, but doth establish in us a Frame and Temper of
Mind and is productive of a holy and vertuous Life.  Therefore let these
things take effect in us; in our Spirituality and Heavenly-mindedness; in
our Conformity to the Divine Nature and _Nativity from above_.  For
whoever professes that he believes the Truth of these things and wants
the Operation of them upon his Spirit and Life doth, in fact, make void
and frustrate what he doth declare as his Belief.  He doth receive the
Grace of God in vain unless this Principle and Belief doth descend in his
Heart and establish a good Frame and Temper of Mind and govern in all
Actions of his Life and Conversation."[56]  This translation of Light and
Truth and Insight into the flesh and blood of action is a necessary law
of the spiritual life: "Good men spiritualize their bodies; bad men
incarnate their souls";[57] or, as he expresses it in one of his Sermons:
"To be [spiritually] well and unactive do not consist together.  No man
is well without action."[58]

Religion is, thus, with him always a dynamic principle of Life, working
itself out in the frame and temper of the man and producing its
characteristic effects in his actions.  It does not operate "like a charm
or spell"--it operates only as a vital principle[59] and we become
eternally the self which we ourselves form.  "We naturalize ourselves,"
to use his striking phrase, "to the employment of eternity."[60]  We are
lost, not by Adam's sin, but by our own; and we are saved, not by
Christ's historical death, but by our own obedience to the law of the
Spirit of Life revealed in Him and by our own death to sin;[61] and the
beginning of Heaven is one with the beginning of conformity to the will
of God and to our nativity from above.  "Heaven is a temper of spirit,
before it is a place."[62] {302} There is a Heaven this side of Heaven
and there is as certainly a Hell this side of Hell.  The most impressive
expression of this truth is given in one of his Sermons: "All misery
arises out of _ourselves_.  It is a most gross mistake, and men are of
dull and stupid spirits who think that the state which we call Hell is an
incommodious place only; and that God by His sovereignty throws men
therein.  Hell ariseth out of a man's self.  And Hell's fewel is the
guilt of a man's conscience.  It is impossible that any should be so
miserable as Hell makes a man and as there a man is miserable by his own
condemning of himself: And on the other side, when they think that Heaven
arises from any place, or any nearness to God or Angels, that is not
principally so; but Heaven lies in a refined Temper, in an inward
Reconciliation to the Nature of God.  So that both Hell and Heaven have
their Foundation within Men."[63]  The evil and punishment which follow
sin are "consequential" and inseparable from sin, and so, too, eternal
life is nothing but spiritual life fulfilling itself in ways that are
consequential and necessary in the deepest nature of things: "That which
is our best employment here will be our only employment in eternity."[64]

The good old Puritan, Tuckney, suspected that Whichcote was promulgating
a type of Christianity which could dispense with ordinances--"as though
in this life wee may be above ordinances,"--and it must be confessed that
there was some ground for this suspicion.  He was no "enthusiast" and he
in no way shared the radical anti-sacramentarian spirit of the small
sects of the Commonwealth, but it belonged to the very essence of this
type of religion, as we have seen in every varied instance of it, to hold
lightly to externals.  "The Spirit," as Whichcote once said, "makes men
consider the Inwards of things,"[65] and almost of necessity the grasp
slackens on outward {303} forms, as the vision focusses more intently
upon inward and eternal realities.  It is one of his foundation
principles that "we worship God best when we resemble Him most,"[66] and
if that is true, then the whole energy of one's being should concentrate
upon the cultivation of "the deiform nature," "the nativity from Above."
The real matters of religion, as he keeps insisting, are matters of life
and inner being, the formation of disposition and the right set of will.
But these vital things have been notoriously slighted, and "men's zeal is
employed in usages, modes and rites of parties"; in matters that are
divisive and controversial rather than in "things that are lovely in the
eyes of all who have the Principles of Reason for their rule."[67]  The
great differences in religion have never been over necessary and
indispensable Truth; on the contrary the disturbing differences have
always been and still are "either over Points of curious and nice
Speculation, or about arbitrary modes of worship."[68]  Just as fast as
men see that religion is a way to fullness of life, a method of attaining
likeness to God, and just as soon as they realize that God can be truly
worshipped only by acts and attitudes that are moral and spiritual,
_i.e._ acts and attitudes that attach to the deliberate consent of the
inner spirit, Whichcote thinks that "rites and types and ceremonies,
which are all veils," will drop away and religion will become one with a
rich and intelligent life.[69]

We can well understand how this presentation of Christianity as "a
culture and discipline of the whole man--an education and consecration of
all his higher activities"[70]--would seem, to those accustomed to
dualistic theologies, "clowdie and obscure."  It was, however, "no newe
persuasion."  In all essential particulars it is four-square with the
type of religion with which the spiritual Reformers of Germany and
Holland had for more than a century made the world acquainted.  But,
{304} in the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews, somewhat adapted: "all
these, having had the witness borne to them through their faith, received
not the promise in full, God having provided some better, _i.e._ fuller,
thing, that they should not be made complete, apart from those who
succeeded them and fulfilled their hopes."

[1] This interesting phrase occurs in _A Brief Account of the New Sect of
Latitude-Men_, by S. P. (probably Simon Patrick), 1662.

[2] S. P. in his _Sect of Latitude-Men_ says: "A Latitude-Man is an image
of Clouts [a man of straw] that men set up to encounter with, for want of
a real enemy; it is a convenient name to reproach a man that you owe a
spite to."

[3] Letters of Tuckney and Whichcote in the Appendix to Whichcote's
_Aphorisms_ (London, 1753), p. 2.

[4] _Aphorisms_, Appendix, p. 53.

[5] Culverwel, _Elegant Discourses_ (1654), p. 6.

[6] Burnet, _History of His Own Times_ (London, 1850), p. 127.

[7] We are dependent, for the few facts which we possess concerning
Whichcote's life, on the Sketch of him written by Dr. Samuel Salter, as a
Preface to his edition of Whichcote's _Aphorisms_, published in 1753.

[8] _Select Sermons_ (1698), p. 30.

[9] Salter's Preface, pp. xxii-xxiii.

[10] _Ibid._ p. xx.

[11] Appendix to _Aphorisms_ (1753), p. 2.

[12] Ibid. p. 4.

[13] Ibid. p. 7.

[14] Ibid. pp. 8 and 13.

[15] Ibid. pp. 13 and 14.

[16] Appendix to _Aphorisms_, pp. 37-38.

[17] _Ibid._ p. 27.

[18] Appendix to _Aphorisms_, pp. 53-54.

[19] _Ibid._ p. 57.

[20] _Ibid._ p. 60.

[21] Appendix to _Aphorisms_, p. 125.

[22] _Ibid._ p. 127.

[23] _Ibid._ pp. 133-134.

[24] _Select Sermons_ (1698), p. 149.

[25] _Ibid._ pp. 131-133.

[26] _Ibid._ p. 88.

[27] _Ibid._ p. 109.

[28] _Ibid._ p. 74.

[29] Proverbs xx. 27.

[30] _Aphorism_ 861.

[31] _Aphorism_ 934.

[32] _Aphorism_ 847.

[33] _Aphorism_ 457.

[34] _Aphorism_ 444.

[35] _Aphorism_ 87.

[36] _Aphorism_ 248.

[37] _Aphorism_ 220.

[38] _Several Discourses_ (1707), iv. p. 259.

[39] _Aphorism_ 709.

[40] _Several Discourses_, iv. p. 192.

[41] _Select Sermons_, pp. 55 and 62

[42] _Select Sermons_, p. 7.

[43] _Discourses_, iv. p. 191.

[44] _Ibid._ p. 171.

[45] _Ibid._ p. 259.

[46] _Select Sermons_, p. in

[47] _Aphorism_ 302.

[48] Quoted almost literally from _Select Sermons_, p. 72.

[49] _Ibid._ pp. 32-33.

[50] _Select Sermons_, p. 6.  He also says in Aphorism No. 109, "God hath
set up two Lights to enlighten us in our Way: the Light of Reason, which
is the Light of His Creation; and the Light of Scripture which is
After-Revelation from Him."

[51] _Aphorism_ 587.

[52] See _Several Discourses_, iv. p. 173.

[53] _Ibid._ ii. p. 275.

[54] _Aphorisms_ 1127, 853, and 1028.

[55] _Select Sermons_, p. 79; and _Aphorism_ 285.

[56] _Select Sermons_, p. 350.

[57] _Aphorism_ 367.

[58] _Select Sermons_, p. 71.

[59] _Aphorisms_ 243 and 625.

[60] _Aphorism_ 290.

[61] _Aphorisms_ 525, 612.

[62] _Aphorism_ 464.

[63] _Select Sermons_, p. 86.  This will be recognized as in perfect
parallelism with Jacob Boehme's teaching, and the parallel is even more
striking in the passage where Whichcote says that "Religion must inform
the Judgment with Truth and reform the Heart and Life by the _Tincture_
of it." (_Select Sermons_, p. 157).

[64] _Aphorism_ 51.

[65] _Select Sermons_, p. 42.

[66] _Aphorism_ 248.

[67] _Select Sermons_, p. 153.

[68] _Ibid._ p. 21.

[69] _Several Discourses_, ii. p. 329.

[70] John Tulloch's _Rational Theology in the Seventeenth Century_, ii.
p. 115.




Principal Tulloch, in his admirable study of the Cambridge Platonists,
declares that John Smith was "the richest and most beautiful mind and
certainly by far the best writer of them all."[2]

There can be no doubt, in the thought of any one who has come into
close contact with him, of the richness and beauty of his spirit.  He
leaves the impression, even after the lapse of more than two hundred
and fifty years, of having been a saint of a rare type.  Those who were
nearest to him in fellowship called him "a good man," "a Godlike man,"
"a servant and friend of God," "a serious practicer of the Sermon on
the Mount"; and we who know him only afar off and at second hand feel
sure nevertheless that these lofty words were rightly given to him.
His scholarship was wide--he had "a vastness of learning," as Patrick
says; but his main contribution was not to philosophy nor to theology,
it consisted rather of an exhibition of religion wrought out in the
attractive form of a beautiful spiritual life: "He was an Exemplar of
true Christian Vertue of so poized and even a life that by his Wisdom
and Conscience one might live almost at a venture, walking blindfold
through the world."[3]

The details of his life are very meagre.  We are in the {306} main
dependent on the literary portraits of him drawn by two of his
affectionate friends--John Worthington who edited his Discourses, and
Simon Patrick who delivered the remarkable sermon on the occasion of
his funeral.[4]  From these sources we learn that John Smith was born
at Achurch near Oundle about the year 1618, "of parents who had long
been childless and were grown aged."  It appears incidentally that his
parents were poor, and that Benjamin Whichcote, who was Smith's college
Tutor, made "provision for his support and maintenance" in his early
student days.[5]  He entered Emmanuel College in 1636, and here he came
under the profound religious and intellectual influence of Whichcote,
for whom "he did ever express a great and singular regard."  He became
a Master of Arts in 1644, and that same year was elected Fellow of
Queens' College.  It was about this time that Whichcote returned to
Cambridge, "spreading and propagating a nobler, freer and more generous
sett of opinions," which "the young Masters of Arts soon cordially
embraced."  Among those who formed this group of awakened and kindled
students Smith was an enthusiastic member, and he himself soon became a
powerful exponent in the Chapel of Queens' College of a similar
message, which, a contemporary writer says, "contributed to raise new
thoughts and a sublime style in the members of the University."  He was
smitten, while still young, with a painful lingering illness, which he
bore "without murmuring or complaining," "resting quietly satisfied in
the Infinite, Unbounded Goodness and Tenderness of his Father," hoping
only that he might "learn that for which God sent the suffering,"[6]
and he died August 7, 1652, "after God had lent him to the world for
about five and thirty years."[7] "I was desirous," his friend Patrick
says at the opening of his funeral sermon, "that I might have stai'd
the wheels of that Triumphant Chariot wherein he seemed to be carried;
that we might have {307} kept him a little longer in this world, till
by his holy breathing into our souls, and the Grace of God, we had been
made meet to have some share in that inheritance of the saints in
light"; but now, he adds, "we are orphans, left without a father."[8]
Patrick adapts to his own departed teacher the beautiful words which
Gregory Thaumaturgus used of his great instructor, Origen: "He hath
entangled and bound up my soul in such fetters of love, he hath so tyed
and knit me to him, that if I would be disengaged, I cannot quit
myself.  No, though I depart out of the world, our love cannot die, for
I love him even as my own soul, and so my affection must remain
forever."[9]  The whole sermon throbs with intense love, and while it
is somewhat overweighted with quotations and learned allusions, it yet
expresses in an impressive way the sincere affection of a disciple for
a noble master who has "begot another shape in his scholar and has made
another man of him."[10]  "Such men," he says, "God hath alwaies in the
world, men of greater height and stature than others, whom He sets up
as torches on an hill to give light to all the regions round
about."[11]  Such men "are the guard and defense of the towns where
they reside, yea of the country whereof they are members; they are the
keepers and life-guards of the world; the walls and bulwarks of the
Nation,"[12] and when they leave the world everybody soon feels that a
glory has departed--"when Elijah goes away you shall have fifty men go
three days to seek him!"[13]

This disciple, who declared that whatever "heavenly life" there was in
himself had been "hatched" by the fostering care, the nurturing love
and the brave conduct of his teacher, has left a few very clear traits
for the creation of a true portrait of this saintly interpreter of the
Spirit: He was a Fountain running over, Worthington says, "an ever
bountifull and bubbling Fountain."[14]  Love was bubbling and springing
up in his soul and flowing out to all.  He would have emptied his soul
into others.  He {308} was dipped into Justice as it were over head and
ears; he had not a slight tincture but was dyed and coloured quite
through with it.  He cared only for those substantial and solid things
of a Divine and Immortal Nature, which he might carry out of the world
with him.  He was a living library, a walking study, a whole college in
himself, that carried his learning about with him; a man of great
industry, indefatigable pains, and herculean labours.  His learning was
so concocted that it lay not in notions in his head, but was wrought
out and formed in his very soul so that a man came away always better
after converse with him.  His faith did not busy itself about fine
notions, subtilties, and curiosities, but it was firmly set and fixed
in an experience of the mercy and goodness of God, seen in Jesus
Christ.  He lived in a continuous enjoyment of God and perpetually drew
nearer to the Centre of his soul's rest and always stayed God's time of
advancement.  His spirit was absorbed in the business and employment of
becoming perfect in his art and profession--which was the art _of being
a good man_.[15]  The devoted scholar's highest wish, as he closes his
glowing account of his beloved master, who "enshrined so much Divinity
that everything about him had a kind of sacredness," was that those who
had enjoyed his presence and inspiration and had formed their lives
under his instruction might "so express his life" in theirs, that men
would say as they saw these disciples of his, "There walks at least a
shadow of Mr. Smith!"[16]

It would be difficult to find any one, in the long list of those who
have interpreted Christianity, who has been more insistent than was
John Smith that religion is the normal function of the soul and the
surest evidence of its health and sanity.  But religion of this normal
and spiritual type must be sharply differentiated both from
superstition and from legalistic religion.  The mark of superstition in
his mind is the apprehension of God as capricious, a hard Master, and
of such a character that his {309} favour can be gained only by servile
flattery or bribery or by spells of magic.  Superstition is "a brat of
darkness" born in a heart of fear and consternation.  It produces
invariably "a forced and jejune devotion"; it makes "forms of worship
which are grievous and burdensome" to the life; it chills or destroys
all free and joyous converse with God; it kills out love and inward
peace, and instead of inspiring, heightening, and purifying man's soul,
it bends all its energies in the vain attempt to alter the capricious
attitude of the superior Being who scares and terrifies men.  It is,
however, a very subtle spirit and one hard to eradicate.  It invades
our religion even when we are least aware of it: "it enters into our
chambers, creeps into our clothes, twines about our secret devotions,
and actuates our forms of belief and orthodox opinions."[17]

Legalistic religion, or the "covenant of works," is much of a piece
with superstition.  It, again, is always a burden to be borne.  Its
mark is "drudgery and servility."  It is a "lean and lifeless form of
external performances."  Its "law" is always something outside the soul
itself.  It is a way of acquiring "merit," of getting reckoned among
"heaven's darlings," but it is not a way of life or expansion or power
or joy.[18]

This "dead" legalistic form of religion is, however, not merely a thing
of antiquity, of some early "dispensation" in the long stretch of years
called "B.C."  Like superstition, legalistic religion also has "crept
into our clothes" and "twined about our secret devotions."  The
"gospel" can be made, and has often enough been made, "as legal as ever
the religion of the Jews was."  The gospel becomes legal, in Smith's
sense, wherever it is treated "as something onely without us," "as a
meer historical story or account," or as a collection of book-facts, or
"as _credenda_ propounded for us to believe," or when we attempt to
"make Christ's righteousness serve onely as our outward
_covering_."[19]  "Some of our {310} _Dogmata_," he thinks, "and
Notions of Justification puff us up in far higher and goodlier conceits
of ourselves than God hath of us; and we _profanely_ make the unspotted
righteousness of Christ serve only as a _covering_ to wrap up our foul
deformities and filthy vices in."[20] This tendency, wherever it
appears, is but legal religion.  Men adopt it because it does not
"pinch their sins."  It gives them a "sluggish and drowsie Belief, a
lazy Lethargy to hugg their supposed acceptation with God"; it enables
them "to grow big and swell with a mighty bulk with airy fancies and
presumptions of being in favour with Heaven," and it fans up "a
pertinacious Imagination that their Names are enrolled in the Book of
Life, or crossed off in the Debt-Book of Heaven."  But it is all "a
meer Conceit or Opinion," for such men are "never the better in reality
in themselves and God judges all things as they are."  "While men
continue in their wickedness, they do but vainly dream of a device to
tie the hands of Almighty Vengeance."[21]

True religion, on the other hand, is absolutely another thing, sundered
by the width of the sky from either superstition or legalistic
religion.  It is a reception and assimilation of the Life of God within
the soul of man which is predisposed by its fundamental nature to the
influx and formative influence of the Spirit of God, who is the
environing Life and inner atmosphere of all human spirits: "_Spiritual
Life comes from God's breath within us and from the formation of Christ
within the soul_."[22]

Like all of his kind, Smith begins with what to him is an axiomatic
fact, that the human soul has a "royal pedigree and noble extraction,"
that, "as the best philosophers have alwaies taught, we must enquire
for God within ourselves," that "Principles of Divine Truth have been
engraven on man's Heart by the finger of God," that we can find "a
clear impression of some Eternal Nature and Perfect Being stamped upon
our own souls," that there are "Radical Principles of Divine Knowledge"
{311} and "Seeds of Divine Nature" hidden within us and that a Divine
Spirit blows and breathes upon men's hearts, assisting the soul to
participate in the Life of God.[23]  In one of his bold sayings this
position is summed up as follows: "Religion is a Heaven-born thing, the
Seed of God in the spirits of men, whereby they are formed to a
similitude and likeness of Himself.  A true Christian is every way of a
most noble extraction, of an heavenly and divine pedigree."[24]

He finds the mark of man's excelling dignity in the inexhaustible depth
of his nature and in his noble discontent with every finite and mutable
thing.  The soul of man is "too big for earthly designs and interests."
There is forever a restless appetite within man for some infinite Good
without which he can never be satisfied.  Everything which he attains
or achieves still leaves him in "pinching penury," unsatiated with
"the thin and spare diet which he finds in his finite home."  His
soul, "like the daughters of the Horseleach is always crying: 'Give,
give.'"  No happiness worth having ever arises, nor through a whole
eternity could arise, for any soul sequestered like a hermit in
the narrow confines of its own private cell, sundered from "the
Fountain-Goodness," for which it was created.  The immortal Principle
within forever drives it to seek its Original, and it lives only when
it "lives above itself," and follows "its own proper motion upward."[25]

The real Gospel in contrast to the "legal gospel," is "the formation of
a Christlike Nature in a man's soul by the mighty power of the Divine
Spirit."[26]  It is no new set of opinions; no body of Notions about
Truth; "no system of saving Divinity, cast in a Pedagogical mould"; it
is, from its Alpha to its Omega, Spirit and Life, or, to put it in
Smith's own words, it is "a vital or energetical Spirit or Power of
Righteousness," "a Principle of Life working in man's spirit," "a
quickening ministration," "a Seed of God," "a vital Influx, spreading
through all {312} the powers of the soul and bringing it into a Divine
Life."[27]  There are many close imitations of this real Gospel which
on the outside look exactly like it, but they only assume "the garish
dress and attire of religion," they put on "the specious and
seemingly-spiritual Forms" without the inward Life and Power which are
always the mark of true religion.  These "mimical Christians" reform
their looks, instruct their tongues, take up the fitting set of duties
and system of opinions, underprop their religion with sacred
performances; "chameleon-like, they even turn their insides to whatever
hue and colour" is demanded of religion; they "furnish this domestick
Scene of theirs with any kind of matter which the history of religion
affords them"--only, however they "cunningly fashion out their religion
by Book-skill," they cannot get "the true and living thing," which
creates a new spirit and produces a new inward joy: "True Religion is
no piece of artifice; it is no boiling up of our Imaginative powers nor
the glowing heats of Passion; though these are too often mistaken for
it, when in our jugglings in Religion we cast a mist before our eyes.
But it is a new Nature informing the souls of Men; it is a Godlike
frame of Spirit, discovering it self most of all in serene and clear
Minds, in deep Humility, Meekness, Self-denial, Universal Love of God
and all true Goodness, without Partiality and without Hypocrisie;
whereby we are taught to know God, and knowing Him to love Him and
conform ourselves as much as may be to all that Perfection which shines
forth in Him."[28]

Heaven and Hell for John Smith, as for Boehme and for Whichcote, "have
their foundation laid in Men's own souls."[29]  They are rather
something within us than something without us.  Sin and hell have the
same origin, "the same lineage and descent."  "The Devil is not only
the name of one particular thing, but a _nature_.  He is not so much a
particular Being designed to torture wicked men in the world to come as
a hellish and diabolical {313} nature seated in the minds of men. . . .
Could the Devil change his foul and impure nature, he would neither be
a Devil nor miserable. . . .  All Sin and Wickedness in man's spirit
hath the Central force and energy of Hell in it, and is perpetually
pressing down towards it as towards its own place.  There needs no
fatal necessity or Astral influences to tumble wicked men down forcibly
into Hell: No, Sin itself, hastened by the mighty weight of its own
nature, carries them down thither with the most swift and headlong
motion."[30]  "Would wicked men dwell a little more at home, and
_descend into the bottom of their own Hearts_ they would soon find Hell
opening her mouth wide upon them, and those secret fires of inward fury
and displeasure breaking out upon them."[31]  So, too, the Kingdom of
Heaven is within.  It lies not so much in external things, golden
streets and crowns, as in the quality and disposition of a man's mind.
The enjoying of God consists not so much in a change of place as in
participation in the nature of God and in assimilation to God.  Nothing
can stand firm and sure, nothing can have eternal establishment and
abiding permanence that "hath not the everlasting arms of true Goodness
under it."[32]

In a very fine passage, in the noble discourse on "True Religion,"
Smith says: "I wish there be not among some such a light and poor
esteem of Heaven, as makes them more to seek after _Assurance of Heaven
onely in the Idea of it as a thing to come than after Heaven it self_;
which indeed we can never be well assured of untill we find it rising
up within ourselves and glorifying our own souls.  When true Assurance
comes, Heaven it self will appear upon the Horizon of our souls, like a
morning light chasing away all our dark and gloomy doublings before it.
We shall not then need to light up our Candles to seek for it in
corners; no, it will display its own lustre and brightness so before us
that we may see it in its own light, and our souls the true possessours
of it."  "Should a man hear a Voice from Heaven or see a Vision from
the Almighty to testifie unto him the Love of God towards him [and the
{314} Assurance of his Salvation]; yet methinks it were more desirable
to find a Revelation of all _from within_, arising up from the Bottome
and centre of a man's own soul, in the Reall and Internal impressions
of a Godlike nature upon his own spirit; and thus to find the
Foundation and Beginning of Heaven and Happiness within himself; it
were more desirable to see the crucifying of our own Will, the
mortifying of the meer Animal life and to see a Divine life rising up
in the room of it, as a sure Pledge and Inchoation of Immortality and
Happiness, the very Essence of which consists in a perfect conformity
and cheerful compliance of all the Powers of our Souls with the Will of

The consciousness of Immortality rises or falls with the moral and
spiritual height of the soul.  Nothing makes men doubt or question the
Immortality of their souls so much as their own "base and earthly
loves," and so, too, inward goodness "breeds a sense of the Soul's
Immortality": "Goodness and vertue make men know and love, believe and
delight in their Immortality.  When the soul is purged and enlightened
by true sanctity it is more capable of those Divine irradiations
whereby it feels it self in conjunction with God.  It knows that
Almighty Love, by which it lives, is stronger than death.  It knows
that God will never forsake His own life which He has quickened in the
soul.  Those breathings and gaspings after an Eternal participation of
Him are but the energy of His own breath within us."[34]

Smith finds the world in which he lives a fair world, everywhere full
of "the Prints and Footsteps of God," the finite creatures of which are
"Glasses wherein God reflects His glory."  There are many "golden links
that unite the world to God," and good men, "conversing with this lower
world and viewing the invisible things of God in the things that are
made in the outward Creation, may many times find God secretly flowing
into their souls and leading them silently out of the Court of the
Temple into the Holy Place."[35]


The outward world is thus not something stubbornly foreign to the
spirit; it is not the enemy's country, but every finite good and
everything of beauty is "a Blossom of the First Goodness, a Beam from
the Father of Lights."  The spiritual person discovers that the whole
creation is spiritual.  He learns to "love all things in God and God in
all things, and he sees that God is All in all, the Beginning and
Original of Being, the Perfect Idea of their goodness and the end of
their motion."  In the calming illumination of this clarified vision,
the good man, in whose soul religion has flowered, "is no longer
solicitous whether this or that good thing be mine, or whether my
perfections exceed the measure of this or that particular Creature, for
whatever good he beholds anywhere he enjoys and delights in as much as
if it were his own, and whatever he beholds in himself he looks upon
not as his _property_ but _as a common good_; for all these Beams come
from one and the same Fountain and Ocean of Light in whom he loves them
all with an universal Love.  When his affections run along the stream
of any created excellencies, whether his own or any one's else, yet
they stay not here but run on until they fall into the Ocean; they do
not settle into a fond love and admiration either of himself or any
other's excellencies, but he owns them as so many Pure Effluxes and
Emanations from God, and in any particular Being loves the Universal
Goodness.  Thus a good man may walk up and down the world as in a
Garden of Spices and suck a Divine Sweetness out of every flower.
There is a twofold meaning in every Creature: a Literal and Mystical; a
good man says of everything that his Senses offer to him: it speaks to
his lower part but it points out something above to his Mind and
Spirit. . . .  True Religion never finds it self out of the Infinite
Sphere of Divinity and wherever it finds Beauty, Harmony, Goodness,
Love, Ingenuity, Wisdom, Holiness, Justice, and the like, it is ready
to say: _Here is God_.  Wheresoever any such Perfections shine out, an
holy Mind climbs up by these Sunbeams and raises up it self to
God. . . .  A good man finds every place he {316} treads upon _Holy
Ground_; to him the world is God's Temple."[36]

The supreme instance of the revelation of the Universal through the
particular, of the invisible through the visible, the Divine through
the human, is seen in Christ.  It was precisely such an event as might
have been expected, for "the Divine Bounty and Fulness has always been
manifesting Itself to the spirits of men."  Those who have lived by
inward insight have perpetually found themselves "hanging upon the arms
of Immortal Goodness."  At length, in this One Life the Divine Goodness
blossomed into perfect flower and revealed its Nature to men.  In Him
divinity and humanity are absolutely united in one Person.  In Christ
we have a clear manifestation of God and in Him, too, "we may see with
open face what human nature can attain to."[37]  This stupendous event,
however, was no "gracious contrivance," no scheme to restore lapsed men
in order that God might have "a Quire of Souls to sing eternal
Hallelujahs to Him"; it was just "the overflowing fountain and efflux
of Almighty Love bestowing itself upon men and crowning Itself by
communicating Itself."[38]  The Christ who is thus divine Grace become
visible and vocal is also at the same time the irresistible attraction,
"strongly and forcibly moving the souls of men into a conjunction with
Divine Goodness," which is what Smith always means by the great word,
_Faith_.  It is something in the hearts of men which by experience
"feels the mighty insinuations of Divine Goodness"; complies with it;
perpetually rises into co-operation with it, and attains its true "life
and vivacity" by partaking of it.[39]  Christ is thus the Node, or
Centre, of both Grace and Faith.

With this apprehension of Faith as a vital thing--a new and living
way--Smith thinks very lightly of "notions" and what he calls "a
knowledge of Divinity [Theology] which appears in systems and
models."[40]  This is but a poor way, he thinks, to "the Land of
Truth." {317} "It is but a thin and aiery knowledge that is got by meer
speculation."  "This is but spider-like to spin a worthless web out of
one's own bowels."  "Jejune and barren speculations may unfold the
Plicatures of Truth's garment, but they cannot discover her lovely
Face." "To find Truth," he says in another figure, "we must break
through the outward shell of words and phrases which house it," and by
_experience and practice_ discover the "inward beauty, life and
loveliness of Truth."[41]

This hard "shell of words and phrases" which must be broken before
Truth is found, is one of Sebastian Franck's favourite sayings, and we
find Smith also repeating Franck's vivid accounts of the weakness of
Scripture when it is treated only as external history, or as words,
texts, and phrases.  "Scripture," he says, in the exact words and
figures of the German Humanist, "is a Sealed Book which the greatest
Sophist may be most acquainted with.  It is like the Pillar of fire and
cloud that parted between the Israelites and Egyptians, giving a clear
and comfortable light to all those that are under the manuduction and
guidance thereof [_i.e._ those who have the inner experience] but being
full of darkness and obscurity to those that rebel against it."[42]
"The dead letter," he says, "is a sandy foundation" for religion,
because it is never in books and writings but rather in the human soul
that men must seek for God.[43] Action and not words; life and not
motions; heart and not brain, hold the key to Truth: "They cannot be
good at Theorie that are bad at Practice."[44]  "Our Saviour," he says,
"would not draw Truth up into any System, nor would He lay it out into
Canons or Articles of Faith, because He was not so careful to stock the
world with Opinions and Notions as to make it thrive with true piety,
Godlike purity and spiritual understanding"; and in a very happy
passage, he reminds us that there are other ways of propagating
religion besides writing books: "They are not alwaies the best Men who
blot the most paper; Truth is not so {318} voluminous nor swells into
such a mighty bulk as our Bookes doe.  Those minds are not alwaies the
most chaste that are the most parturient with learned Discourses."[45]

I have, I believe, now given a true account of Smith's type of
Christianity, It was no new message.  It was a re-expression of ideas
and ideals that had already been often proclaimed to the dull ears of
the world.  He, however, is never a repeater of other men's ideas.
What he offers is always as much his own as was the life-blood which
coursed through his heart.  He fed upon the literature which was
kindred to his growing spirit, and his books helped him find the road
which he was seeking; but he was nobly true to his own theory that the
way of Life is discovered by spiritual experience rather than by
"verbal description," and this quiet, sincere scholar and prophet of
the soul found it thus.  He once said that "Truth is content, when it
comes into the world, to wear our mantles, to learn our language and to
conform itself as it were to our dress and fashions";[46] that is to
say, prophets speak in their own dialect and use the modes of their own
culture, but they are prophets through their own temporal experience of
that one eternal Reality which shines into their souls in its own

What impressed his contemporary friends most was the beauty of his
spirit, and that is what still most impresses the reader of his
Discourses.  He has succeeded in preserving some of the strong elixir
of his life in the words which survive him, and we know him as a
valiant soldier in that great army of soldier-saints who have fought
with spiritual weapons.  "This fight and contest," he himself has told
us, "with Sin and Satan is not to be known by the rattling of Chariots
or the sound of an alarm: it is indeed alone transacted upon the inner
stage of men's souls and spirits--but it never consists in a sluggish
kind of doing nothing that so God might do all."[48]  A Life is always
battle, and the true Christian is always "a Champion of God" clad in
the armour of Light for the defeat of {319} darkness and the seed of
Satan.  In this battle of Armageddon John Smith took a man's part, and
his affectionate disciple Simon Patrick was quite right in saying, as
the master passed away, "My father, my father, The chariot of Israel
and the horsemen thereof."

The other members of this impressive group of Cambridge Platonists,
especially Ralph Cudworth, Henry More, Nathaniel Culverwel and John
Norris, might well be studied, and they would furnish some additional
aspects of religious thought, but the teachings of the two exponents
whom I have selected as representative of the school have brought the
central ideas and the underlying spirit of this seventeenth century
religious movement sufficiently into view.  Their intimate connection
with the currents of thought which preceded them has also been made
adequately clear.  This volume does not pretend to be exhaustive, and
it cannot follow out all the interesting ramifications of the
complicated historical development which I have been tracing.  I have
been compelled to limit myself to the presentation of typical specimens
and examples of this continuously advancing spiritual movement which
found one of its noblest figures in John Smith.

[1] Simon Patrick uses this phrase in his funeral sermon on his friend
John Smith.  _Select Discourses_ (1673), p. 472.

[2] _Rational Theology_, ii. p. 122.

[3] Patrick's Sermon, _Select Discourses_, p. 496.

[4] Worthington's Sketch is given in the Preface to the Reader in
_Select Discourses_, pp. iii-xxx, and Patrick's Sermon is given as an
Appendix to the same volume, pp. 471-512.

[5] Preface, p. vi.

[6] Patrick, _op. cit._ p. 498.

[7] Preface, p. xxviii.

[8] Patrick, _op. cit._ pp. 471 and 472.

[9] _Ibid._ p. 484.

[10] _Ibid._ p. 477.

[11] _Ibid._ p. 474.

[12] _Ibid._ pp. 480-481.

[13] _Ibid._ p. 486.

[14] Preface, p. iii.

[15] This portrait is made up entirely of passages gathered out of
Patrick's Sermon, and but slightly altered.

[16] _Op. cit._ p. 509.

[17] "A Short Discourse on Superstition," in _Select Discourses_, pp.

[18] "Discourse on Legal Righteousness, etc.," _ibid._ pp. 273-338.

[19] Smith uses this phrase in precisely the same manner as Jacob

[20] _Select Discourses_, p. 316.

[21] _Ibid._ pp. 319-321, quoted freely.

[22] _Ibid._ p. 21, quoted freely.

[23] _Select Discourses_, pp. 13, 14, 57, 61, and 118.

[24] _Ibid._ p. 370.

[25] _Ibid._ pp. 375, 393, 395, 403, 407-408.

[26] _Ibid._ p. 311.

[27] _Select Discourses_, pp. 303, 305, and 315.

[29] _Ibid._ p. 364.  For Smith's view of mimical Christians see pp.

[29] _Ibid._ p. 144.

[30] _Select Discourses_, p. 452.

[31] _Ibid._ p. 456.

[32] _Ibid._ pp. 452 and 445.

[33] _Select Discourses_, p. 416.

[34] _Ibid._ pp. 97-98.  Quoted freely.

[35] _Ibid._ pp. 419-420.

[36] _Select Discourses_, pp. 421-423.

[37] _Ibid._ pp. 332 and 336.

[38] _Ibid._ p. 398.

[39] _Ibid._ p. 325.

[40] _Ibid._ p. 2.

[41] _Select Discourses_, pp. 4, 7, and 8.

[42] _Ibid._ p. 278.

[43] _Ibid._ pp. 3 and 288.

[44] _Ibid._ p. 12.

[45] _Select Discourses_, p. 12.

[46] _Ibid._ p. 165.

[47] _Ibid._ p. 260.

[48] _Ibid._ pp. 461 and 458.





The powerful religious upheaval in England which reached its
culmination during the two middle decades of the seventeenth century,
profoundly stirred both the upper and lower intellectual strata of
society.  It fused and organized men on the one hand, and carried them
beyond themselves; and on the other hand it broke up settled habits of
thought, swept away many customs and practices which had become almost
irresistible subconscious influences, and left those who were in any
way morally and intellectually defective at the mercy of chance
currents and eddies.  As a result there appeared a strange medley of
tiny sects.  These groups, seething with enthusiasm, scattered pretty
much over England, unorganized or loosely organized, generally gathered
about some influential psychopathic leader, were lumped together in the
public mind and named "Ranters."[1]  They are by no means a negligible
phenomenon of the period.  They reveal the back-wash of the spiritual
movement, which in the main went steadily onward.  They exhibit, in
their loose and unmoralized freedom, the inherent dangers which attach
to the proclamation of spiritual liberty, and they furnish a clear
historical illustration of the truth that progress toward a religion
grounded upon the inner life of man can only be slowly and painfully


The religious poets of this period, on the other hand, furnish clear
evidence of the constructive, organizing and fusing power of these
newly dawning spiritual insights, as they worked upon the minds of
highly gifted and endowed persons.  Poets are not Reformers.  They do
not consider themselves "commissioned" to reconstruct old systems of
thought, old forms of faith and old types of church-organization, or to
re-interpret the Gospel, the way of salvation and the communion of
saints.  Their mission is a different one, though it is no less
spiritual and, in the best sense of the word, no less practical.  The
poets are always among the first to feel the direction of spiritual
currents, and they are very sure voices of the deeper hopes and
aspirations of their epoch.  All the religious poets of this particular
period reveal very clearly the influence of the ideas which were
central in the teaching of the spiritual leaders whom we have been
studying.  The reader of Milton needs no argument to convince him of
the fact that, however far removed the great poet was in most points of
view from the contemporary Quakers, he nevertheless insisted
emphatically, as they did, on the illumination of the soul by a Light
within; "a celestial Light," he calls it in _Paradise Lost_, which
shines inward and irradiates the mind through all her powers, and
supplies an inward sight of things invisible to sense[2]--a Light which
steadily increases as it is used by the obedient soul.[3]  The origin
of this inward Light, according to Milton's thought, is the eternal
Word of God, who is before all worlds and who is the source of all
revelation, whether inward or outward: the Spirit that prefers

  Before all temples the upright heart and pure.[4]

The minor religious poets of the period had not, however, formed their
intellectual outlook under the imperial sway of theological systems of
thought in anything like {322} the degree that Milton had.  They
reflect the freer and less rigidly formulated currents of thought.
"All divinity is love, or wonder," John Donne wrote in one of his
poems.  No phrase could better express the intense religious life of
the group of spiritual poets in England who interpreted in beautiful,
often immortal, form this religion of the spirit, this glowing
consciousness that the world and all its fulness is God's and that
eternity is set within the soul of man, who never is himself until he
finds his Life in God.

  E'en like two little bank-dividing brooks,
  That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
  And having rang'd and search'd a thousand nooks,
  Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
  Where in a greater current they conjoin:
  So I my best beloved's am; so He is mine.

  E'en so we met: and after long pursuit,
  E'en so we joined; we both became entire:
  No need for either to renew a suit,
  For I was flax and He was flames of fire.
  Our firm united souls did more than twine;
  So I my best beloved's am; so He is mine.[5]

Whatever these poets, Herbert, Vaughan, Traherne, Crashaw, Quarles, say
of the soul and its fuller life, they say quite naturally in terms of
love and wonder.  Religion has become for them the flowering of the
soul; the flooding of the whole being with health and joy; the
consummation of life; and they tell of it as lovers tell of their
discovery and their joy.

  Oh mightie love! man is one world and hath
      Another to attend him.[6]

We have here in these poets, as in the writings of Whichcote and Smith,
a type of religion which is primarily concerned with the liberation and
winning of the whole of life, a thing which, they all tell us, can be
done only in conscious parallelism with the set of eternal currents.

These minor prophets of seventeenth century English literature have
often been treated as mystics, and there {323} is in all of them,
except George Herbert, a rich strand of mystical religion, but their
mysticism is only an element, a single aspect, of a very much wider and
completer type of religion which includes all the strands that compose
what I have been calling "spiritual religion"--an inner flooding of the
life with a consciousness of God, a rational apprehension of the soul's
inherent relation to the Divine, and a transforming discovery of the
meaning of life through the revelation in Christ, which sets all one's
being athrob with love and wonder.

  Eternal God!  O thou that only art
  The sacred fountain of eternal light,
  And blessed loadstone of my better part,
  O thou, my heart's desire, my soul's delight,
  Reflect upon my soul and touch my heart,
  And then my heart shall prize no good above thee;
  And then my soul shall know thee; knowing, love thee.[7]


Thomas Traherne is one of the best and most adequate representatives,
in this literary group, of this type of religion.  He was profoundly
influenced by the revival of Plato and Plotinus, and by the writings of
the religious Humanists and he had absorbed, consciously or
unconsciously, the ideas and ideals which appear and reappear in the
widespread movement which I have been tracing.  He was a pure and noble
soul, a man of deep experience and fruitful meditation, the master of a
rare and wonderful style, and we shall find in his writings a glowing
appreciation and a luminous expression of this type of inner, spiritual

He was born about the year 1636, probably at Hereford, the son of a
poor shoemaker, but of a notable and well-endowed family line.  He took
no pains to inform the world of his outward history and we are left
with guesses as to most of the details of his earthly career, but he
has himself supplied us with an unusually full account of his {324}
inward life during the early years of it.  "Once I remember," he says,
"I think I was about four years old when I thus reasoned with myself,
sitting in a little obscure room of my father's poor house: If there be
a God certainly He must be infinite in Goodness, and I was prompted to
this by a real whispering instinct of Nature."[8]  Whereupon the child
wonders why, if God is so rich, he himself is so poor, possessed of "so
scanty and narrow a fortune, enjoying few and obscure comforts," but he
tells us that as soon as he was old enough to discover the glory of the
world he was in, and old enough for his soul to have "_sudden returns
into itself_," there was no more questioning about poverty and narrow
fortunes.  All the wealth of God was his--

  I nothing in the world did know
        But 'twas divine.[9]

As nobody has better caught the infinite glory of being a child, and as
nobody in literature has more successfully "set the little child in the
midst," than has Traherne, it may be well to let him tell us here in
his splendid enthusiasm what it is to be a child and what the eyes of a
child can see.  He shall do it, first in his magnificent prose and then
in his fine and simple verse.

"Certainly Adam in Paradise had not more sweet and curious
apprehensions of the world, than I when I was a child.  All appeared
new, and strange at first, inexpressibly rare and delightful and
beautiful.  I was a little stranger, which at my entrance into the
world was saluted and surrounded with innumerable joys.  My knowledge
was Divine. . . .  My very ignorance was advantageous.  I seemed as one
brought into the Estate of Innocence.  All things were spotless and
pure and glorious: yea, and infinitely mine, and joyful and precious.
I knew not that there were any sins, or complaints or laws.  I dreamed
not of poverties, contentions or vices.  All tears {325} and quarrels
were hidden from mine eyes.  Everything was at rest, free and immortal.
I knew nothing of sickness or death or rents or exaction, either for
tribute or bread.  In the absence of these I was entertained like an
Angel with the works of God in their splendour and glory, I saw all the
peace of Eden; Heaven and Earth did sing my Creator's praises, and
could not make more melody to Adam, than to me.  All Time was Eternity,
and a perpetual Sabbath.  Is it not strange, that an infant should be
heir of the whole World, and see those mysteries which the books of the
learned never unfold?

"The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped,
nor was ever sown.  I thought it had stood from everlasting to
everlasting.  The dust and stones of the street were as precious as
gold; the gates were at first the end of the world.  The green trees
when I saw them first through one of the gates transported and ravished
me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and
almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things.
The Men!  O what venerable and reverend creatures did the aged seem!
Immortal Cherubims!  And young men glittering and sparkling Angels, and
maids strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty!  Boys and girls
tumbling in the street, and playing, were moving jewels.  I knew not
that they were born or should die.  But all things abided eternally as
they were in their proper places.  Eternity was manifest in the Light
of the Day, and something infinite behind everything appeared; which
talked with my expectation and moved my desire.  The city seemed to
stand in Eden, or to be built in Heaven.  The streets were mine, the
temple was mine, the people were mine, their clothes and gold and
silver were mine, as much as their sparkling eyes, fair skins and ruddy
faces.  The skies were mine, and so were the sun and moon and stars,
and all the World was mine; and I the only spectator and enjoyer of it.
. . .  So that with much ado I was corrupted, and made to learn the
dirty devices of this world.  Which {326} now I unlearn, and become, as
it were, a little child again that I may enter into the Kingdom of

      How like an Angel came I down!
      How bright are all things here!
  When first among His works I did appear
      O how their Glory did me crown!
  The World resembled His _Eternity_
      In which my soul did walk;
  And everything that I did see
      Did with me talk.[11]

      Long time before
  I in my mother's womb was born,
  A God preparing did this glorious store,
      The world, for me adorne.
  Into this Eden so divine and fair
  So wide and bright, I come His son and heir.[12]

Like Vaughan, who, in his "angel-infancy," could

  In these weaker glories spy
  Some shadows of eternity,

and who

  Felt through all this fleshly dress
  Bright shoots of everlastingness,[13]

Traherne not only saw, in his paradise-innocence, the glory of the
earth and sky--the streets paved with golden stones, and boys and girls
with lovely shining faces--but he also felt that he was part of a
deeper world which lay about his infancy and wooed him with love.

  O Lord I wonder at Thy Love,
  Which did my Infancy so early move.[14]

And out of this childhood experience, which many a meditative child can
match, he insists that God visited him.

      He did Approach, He did me woo;
  I wonder that my God this thing would do.

    He in our childhood with us walks,
  And with our thoughts Mysteriously He talks;
    He often visiteth our Minds.[15]


I know of no one who has borne a louder testimony than Traherne to the
divine inheritances and spiritual possibilities of the new-born child,
or who has more emphatically denied the fiction of total depravity: "I
speak it in the presence of God," he says, "and of our Lord Jesus
Christ; in my pure primitive Virgin Light, while my apprehensions were
natural and unmixed, I cannot remember but that I was ten thousand
times more prone to good and excellent things than to evil."[16]  And
he adds this impressive word on the doctrine of inheritance: "It is not
our parents' loins, so much as our parents' lives, that enthrals and
blinds us."[17]

After a happy childhood, during which "The Earth did undertake the
office of a Priest,"[18] and when his soul was

        A living endless eye
        Just bounded with the sky,
  Whose power, whose act, whose essence was to see,[19]

he entered Brasenose College, Oxford, in the year 1652, being made B.A.
in 1656, M.A. in 1661, and Bachelor of Divinity in 1669.  He was
admitted in 1657 to the Rectory of Credenhill, near Hereford, where he
remained for about ten years, and in 1667 he was made chaplain to Sir
Orlando Bridgman, in whose service he died in 1674, and was buried
"under the reading-desk" in the church at Teddington near Hampton Court.

During his lifetime he published _Roman Forgeries_ (1673), an
unimportant work, and had begun the publication of his _Christian
Ethics_, which appeared, after his death, in 1675.  His _Poems_ and his
_Centuries of Meditations_ remained in MS. unknown until they were
discovered in a London bookstall about the year 1897, and their
authorship was proved by Bertram Dobell who published the _Poems_ in
1903, and the _Centuries of Meditations_ in 1908.  There still remains
in MS. an octavo volume of meditations and devotions.

Traherne's poems show that he always dwelt near the {328} gate of
Heaven and was easily aware of the "ancient Light of Eden."  An
accidental bit of gossip, reported in John Aubrey's _Miscellanies_,
indicates that he was subject to psychical experiences of an unusual
sort, and the poet himself has reported an impressive crisis-experience
when he chose his destiny and settled his preference for inward
treasures, even though it meant, as with George Fox, the wearing of a
leather suit.

"When I came into the country, and being seated among silent trees, and
meads and hills, had all my time in mine own hands, I resolved to spend
it all, whatever it cost me, in the search of happiness, and to satiate
that burning thirst which Nature had enkindled in me from my youth.  In
which I was so resolute, that I chose rather to live upon ten pounds a
year, and to go in leather clothes, and feed upon bread and water, so
that I might have all my time clearly to myself, than to keep many
thousands per annum in an estate of life where my time would be
devoured in care and labour.  And God was so pleased to accept of that
desire, that from that time to this, I have had all things plentifully
provided for me, without any care at all, my very study of Felicity
making me more to prosper, than all the care in the whole world.  So
that through His blessing I live a free and a kingly life as if the
world were turned again into Eden, or much more, as it is at this

Like his predecessors in this faith, Traherne is never tired of
declaring the infiniteness of the human soul.  Eternity is in the human
heart, if only the way of the open door is taken, if only the eyes are
opened to see.  God, he says, has made our spirits "centres in
eternity," opening upon "innumerable infinities."  The Ocean is but a
drop of a bucket to the immensity of the soul, with its abysmal deeps
and its immeasurable capacities.  It is the very essence and being of
the soul to feel infinity, for "God is ever more near to us than we are
to ourselves, so that we cannot feel our own souls without feeling
Him."[21]  "You are never," he says, "your true self, till you live
{329} by your soul more than by your body, and you never live by your
soul until you feel its incomparable excellence."[22]  Its nobility is
revealed by its insatiable hungers, its surpassing dignity is declared
by its endless wants, its inability to live by bread alone.  "As by the
seed we conjecture what plant will arise, and know by the acorn what
tree will grow forth, or by the eagle's egg what kind of bird; so do we
by the powers of the soul upon earth, know what kind of Being, Person,
and Glory will be in the Heavens, where its latent powers shall be
turned into Act, its inclinations shall be completed, and its
capacities filled."[23]

Not only in a primitive Eden, but in the world as we know it, with its
black and white, man always bears within himself the mark of a heavenly
origin, and has the quickening Seed of God in the depth of his soul:
"The Image of God is seated in the lineaments of the soul."  Man is the
greatest of all miracles; he is "a mirror of all Eternity."[24]  His
thoughts run out to everlasting; he is made for spiritual supremacy and
has within himself an inner, hidden life greater than anything else in
the universe.[25]  We are "nigh of kin to God" and "nigh of kin

  To those pure things we find
    In His great mind
  Who made the world."[26]

There is

  A Spiritual World standing within
  An Universe enclosed in Skin.[27]

With the same enthusiasm with which he proclaims the divine origin and
the heavenly connections of the soul, Traherne also proclaims the glory
and beauty of the visible world as a revelation of God.

  Eternity stooped down to nought
  And in the earth its likeness sought.[28]

The world is not God, for He is Spirit, but the world is "a glorious
mirror" in which the verities of religion are {330} revealed and in
which the face of God is at least partially unveiled.[29]  It is here
in this "mirror" that the clairvoyant eye discovers God's being,
perceives His wisdom, goodness, and power, guesses out the footsteps of
His love, and finds promises and pledges of the larger fulfilment of
that love.  Here in the world, which is full of "remainders of
Paradise," is surely the visible porch or gate of Eternity.[30]  It is
easy to believe that God has given us His Son when once we have seen
the richness of the world which He has given us.[31]  But the world is
never "ours" until we learn how to see it and enjoy it in its beauty,
even in the most common things, and until we discover that all its
service and all its excellency are spiritual: "Pigs eat acorns, but
neither consider the sun that gave them life, nor the influences of the
heavens by which they were nourished, nor the very root of the tree
from whence they came.  This being the work of Angels who in a wide and
clear light see even the sea that gave them [the acorns] moisture: And
feed upon that acorn spiritually while they know the ends for which it
was created, and feast upon all these as upon a World of Joys within
it: while to ignorant swine that eat the shell it is an empty husk of
no taste nor delightful savour."[32]

Men, as well as angels, can learn to use the world spiritually--can
learn to see how rough, common things are part of "the divine
exchequer"; how a grain of sand exhibiteth the wisdom of God and
manifesteth His glory.[33]  With this prelude, Traherne gives his
glowing account of the true, spiritual way to enjoy the world.

"Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you
awake in Heaven; see yourself in your Father's Palace; and look upon
the skies, the earth, and the air as Celestial Joys: having such a
reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the Angels.  The bride of
a monarch, in her husband's chamber, hath no such causes of delight as

"You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself {331} floweth in
your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the
stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world,
and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as
well as you.  Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God, as
misers do in gold, and Kings in sceptres, you never enjoy the world.

"Till your spirit filleth the whole world, and the stars are your
jewels; till you are as familiar with the ways of God in all Ages as
with your walk and table; till you are intimately acquainted with that
shady nothing out of which the world was made; till you love men so as
to desire their happiness with a thirst equal to the zeal of your own;
till you delight in God for being good to all; you never enjoy the
world.  Till you more feel it than your private estate, and are more
present in the hemisphere, considering the glories and the beauties
there, than in your own house; till you remember how lately you were
made, and how wonderful it was when you came into it: and more rejoice
in the palace of your glory, than if it had been made but to-day

"Yet further, you never enjoy the world aright, till you so love the
beauty of enjoying it, that you are covetous and earnest to persuade
others to enjoy it.  And so perfectly hate the abominable corruption of
men in despising it, that you had rather suffer the flames of Hell than
willingly be guilty of their error. . . .  The world is a mirror of
infinite beauty, yet no man sees it.  It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no
man regards it.  It is a region of Light and Peace, did not men
disquiet it.  It is the Paradise of God.  It is more to man since he is
fallen than it was before.  It is the place of Angels and the Gate of
Heaven.  When Jacob waked out of his dream, he said, 'God is here, and
I wist it not.  How dreadful is this place!  This is none other than
the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven.'"[34]

But notwithstanding his exuberant and overflowing joy in creation,
Traherne is conscious that the world has {332} its "dreggy parts," that
it has been "muddied" by man's misuse of it, and that the havoc of sin
is apparent.  The light which shined in infancy becomes eclipsed as the
customs and manners of life close down over it and cover it.  Men's
mouths are full of talk of fleeting, vulgar, and worthless things, and
they speak no syllable of those celestial and stable treasures which
form the only wealth of life.  The emphasis in education is on the
wrong things.  So with much ado the innocent child is "corrupted and
made to learn the dirty devices of the world," which he must again
unlearn and become a little child once more in the Kingdom of God.[35]
The taint, however, is not in the native structure of the soul, it is
not through a biological transmission, it is due to false training--it
is from the parents' lives rather than their loins.  Let parents, he
says, who desire holy children learn to make them possessors of divine
things _betimes_.  It is "deadly barbarous and uncouth" to "put grubs
and worms" into little children's minds, to teach them to say this
house is mine, this bauble is a jewel, this gew-gaw is a fine thing,
this rattle makes music, when they ought to be made instead to see the
spiritual glory of the earth and sky, the beauty of life, the sweetness
and nobility of Nature, and to live joyously, like birds, in union and
communion with God.  I am sure, he concludes, that barbarous people
that go naked come nearer to Adam, God, and the Angels, in the
simplicity of their wealth, than do many among us who partake of what
we nick-name civility and mode.[36]  The entire work of redemption is,
thus, to restore man to himself, to bring him once more to the Tree of
Life, to enable him to discover the glory all about him, to reveal to
him the real values of things, and to bring to birth within him an
immortal love.  The true healing of the soul is always through the
birth of love.  Before a soul loves, it lives only to itself; as soon
as love is born it lives beyond itself and finds its life in the object
of its love.  It is Christ who first reveals the full measure of love,
who makes us see the one adequate Object of love, and who {333} forges
within our human spirits the invisible bonds of a love that binds us
forever to Him who so loved us.  Here in Him--"a Man loving all the
world, a God dying for mankind"[37]--we see that we are infinitely
beloved, that the foundations of an eternal Friendship are laid, that
God is infinitely prone to love, and that true love spares nothing for
the sake of what it loves--"O miraculous and eternal Godhead suffering
on a Cross for me!"[38]  "That Cross is a tree set on fire with
invisible flame which illuminateth all the world.  The flame is love:
the love in His bosom that died upon it."[39]

But there is no salvation for us in the Cross until it kindles the same
flame of love in us, until that immeasurable love of His becomes an
irresistible power in us, so that we henceforth live unto Him that
loved us.  It must, if it is to be efficacious, shift all our values
and set us to loving as He loved--"He who would not in the same cases
do the same things Jesus Christ hath done can never be saved," for love
is never timorous.[40]  The love of Christ is to dwell within us and
every man is to be the object of it.  God and we are to become one
spirit, that is, one in will and one in desire.  Christ must live
within us.  We must be filled with the Holy Ghost, which is the God of
Love; we must be of the same mind with Christ Jesus and led by His
Spirit, and we must henceforth treat every man in respect to the
greatness of Christ's love--this is salvation in Traherne's conception
of it, and holiness and happiness are the same thing.[41]  The Cross
has not done its complete work for us until we can say: "O Christ, I
see thy crown of thorns in every eye; thy bleeding, naked, wounded body
in every soul; thy death liveth in every memory; thy crucified person
is embalmed in every affection; thy pierced feet are bathed in every
one's tears and it is my privilege to enter with thee into every

However contemplative and mystical the bent of Traherne's mind may have
been, he always finds the {334} terminus of spiritual life in action,
indeed, in brotherly service, in what he calls "blessed operations."
Speaking apparently of himself, he finely says: "He thought it a vain
thing to see glorious principles buried in books, unless he did remove
them into his understanding; and a vain thing to remove them into his
understanding unless he did revive them and raise them up with
continual _exercise_.  Let this therefore be the first principle of
your soul--that to have no principles or to live beside them is equally
miserable.  Philosophers are not those that speak but do great
things."[43]  "It is," he writes in words which sound like those of his
contemporary Winstanley, "it is an indelible principle of Eternal
truth, that practice and exercise is the Life of all.  Should God give
you worlds and laws and treasures, and worlds upon worlds, and Himself
also in the Divinest manner, if you will be lazy you lose all.  The
soul is made for action and cannot rest till it be employed. . . .  If
therefore you would be happy, your life must be as full of operation as
God of treasure."[44]

Love, once kindled in the soul, is the mother of all heroic actions;
love knows how to abound and overflow--the man who has lighted his life
from Christ's love is constant in trials, patient in sufferings,
courageous in assaults, prudent in difficulties, victorious and
triumphant in action.[45]

Traherne shares with Boehme and with the Cambridge Platonists the view
that Eternity is as much here as anywhere.  Those Christians, he
thinks, who put off felicity and defer their enjoyment with long delays
"are to be much suspected."[46]  "'Tis not," so he states his law,
"change of place, but glorious principles well practised that establish
Heaven in the life and soul.  An angel will be happy anywhere and a
devil miserable, because the principles of the one are always good, of
the other, bad.  From the centre to the utmost bounds of the
everlasting hills all is Heaven before God, and full of {335} treasure;
and he that walks like God in the midst of them is blessed."[47]  "You
are in Heaven everywhere."[48]  The real business of life, as he
elsewhere declares, is to "piece this life with the life of Heaven, to
see it as one with all Eternity, a part of it, a life within it,"[49]
which reminds us of Vaughan's great words:

  I saw Eternity the other night
  Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
      As calm as it was bright:
  And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
      Driv'n by the spheres,
  Like a vast shadow mov'd; in which the world
      And all her train were hurl'd.[50]

And with much penetration Traherne tells us that Eternity is not an
endless addition of "times "--a weak infinite series of durations, but
rather a Reality in which all true realities abide, and which retains
in a present now all beginnings and all endings.[51]  Eternity is just
the real world for which we were made and which we enter through the
door of love.

  It is a spiritual world within,
  A living world and nearer far of kin
    To God than that which first He made.
      While that doth fade
  This therefore ever shall endure
  Within the soul as more divine and pure.[52]

[1] See my _Studies in Mystical Religion_, chap. xix.

[2] Book III. lines 51-55.

[3] Book III. lines 194-197.

[4] Book I. line 18.  Since this chapter was written, Alden Sampson's
_Studies in Milton_ (New York, 1913) has been published.  His valuable
chapter on "Milton's Confession of Faith" reveals in Milton a very wide
acquaintance with the ideas which I have been tracing, and shows by a
vast number of quotations how frequently the poet used these ideas

[5] Francis Quarles' "My Beloved is Mine."

[6] George Herbert's poem "Man."

[7] Francis Quarles' "Light."

[8] _Centuries of Meditations_ (London, 1908), iii. 16.  For details of
his life and for the story of the discovery of his writings, see the
Introduction to _The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne_ (1903) by
Bertram Dobell.

[9] Traherne's pom "Wonder," iii.

[10] _Centuries of Meditations_, iii. 1, 2 and 3.

[11] "Wonder," i.

[12] "The Salutation"

[13] Vaughan's "The Retreat."

[14] Traherne's "The Approach."

[15] _Ibid._

[16] _Centuries of Meditations_, iii. 8.

[17] _Ibid._

[18] "Dumbness."

[19] "The Preparative."

[20] _Centuries of Meditations_, iii. 46.

[21] _Ibid._ ii. 81.  See also ii. 70 and 83.

[22] _Centuries of Meditations_, ii. 92.

[23] _Ibid._ iv. 70.

[24] _Ibid._ i. 19, and iv. 81.

[25] _Ibid._ ii. 23.

[26] "My Spirit."

[27] "Fullness."

[28] "The Choice."

[29] _Centuries of Meditations_, ii. 17.

[30] _Ibid._ ii. 1 and 17.

[31] _Ibid._ ii. 6.

[32] _Ibid._ i. 26.

[33] _Ibid._ i. 25 and 27.

[34] _Centuries of Meditations_, i. 28-31.

[35] _Centuries of Meditations_, iii. 7 and 3.

[36] _Ibid._ iii. 11-13.

[37] _Centuries of Meditations_, i. 59.

[38] _Ibid._ i. 67 and 62.

[39] _Ibid._ i. 60.

[40] _Ibid._ iv. 59.

[41] _Ibid._ iv. 28.  See also iv. 31.

[42] _Ibid._ i. 86.

[43] _Centuries of Meditations_, iv. 2.

[44] _Ibid._ iv. 95.

[45] _Christian Ethics_, chapter on "Charity."

[46] _Centuries of Meditations_, iv. 9.

[47] _Centuries of Meditations_, iv. 37.

[48] _Ibid._ iv. 38.

[49] _Ibid._ iv. 93.

[50] Vaughan's poem, "The World."

[51] _Centuries of Meditations_, v. 7-8.

[52] Traherne's poem, "Thoughts."




Few words are needed in conclusion to point out the historical
significance of the movement which we have been studying, and to indicate
its connection with the rise and development of seventeenth century
Quakerism.  These chapters have presented sufficient historical evidence
to show that from the very beginning of the Reformation there appeared a
group of men who felt themselves commissioned, like the prophets of old,
to challenge the theological systems of the Reformers, and to cry against
what proved to be an irresistible tendency toward the exaltation of form
and letter in religion.  They were men of intense religious faith, of
marked mystical type, characterized by interior depth of experience, but
at the same time they were men of scholarship, breadth and balance.

Their central loyalty was to the invisible Church which in their
conception was the Body of Christ, forever growing and expanding through
the ages under the guidance of the ever-present Spirit; and they esteemed
but lightly the established Churches which seemed to them formed not
after the pattern in the mount but after very earthly and political
models.  Challenging, as they did, the formulated doctrines of the
Reformation, the type of Church which was being substituted for the Roman
Catholic Church, and the entire body of ceremonial and sacramental
practices which were being put in place of the ancient sacraments of the
Church, these "prophets" found themselves compelled to discover the
foundations {337} for a new type of Church altogether, and to feel their
way down to a new and fundamental basis of religious authority.  That
would be a momentous task for any age, or for any spiritual leaders, and
we must not demand the impossible of these sixteenth century
pathbreakers.  What they did do consistently and well was to proclaim the
spiritual character of God as revealed in Christ, the native capacity of
the human soul for God, the intimate and inherent relationship of the
divine and human, the progressive revelation of God in history, the
priority of the inward Word, the august ethical aspect which must attach
to any religion adequate for the growing race, and the folly of losing
the heart and spirit of Christianity in contentions over external,
temporal, and pictorial features of it.

They themselves were not founders of sects or churches.  Their sole
mission was the propagation of a message, of a body of truth and of
spiritual ideals.  They were from the nature of the case destined to be
voices crying in a wilderness-world, and they were obliged to trust their
precious cause to the contagion of their word and life and truth.  The
Quakers of the seventeenth century are obviously one of the great
historical results of this slowly maturing spiritual movement, and they
first gave the unorganized and inarticulate movement a concrete body and
organism to express itself through.  The modern student, who goes to the
original expositions of Quakerism to find what the leaders of this
movement conceived their message and their mission to be, quickly
discovers that they were not radical innovators setting forth novel and
strange ideas, but that they were on the contrary the bearers, the
interpreters, the living embodiment of ideas which have now become
familiar to the reader of these chapters.

No one has given us a clearer statement of George Fox's mission and of
the creation of the new "Society" than has the writer of the "Epistle to
the Reader" in Fox's strange book _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_
(1659).  This "Epistle to the Reader" was {338} written by Edward
Burrough and was printed, also under the same title, in Burrough's
_Works_ in 1672.[1]  In this striking document the writer gives his
account of the existing Church, and over against this dark background he
sets God's new Reformation that is just beginning, of which he feels
himself to be the divinely sent herald and prophet.  "As our minds became
turned, and our hearts inclined to the Light which shined in every one of
us," he writes, "we came to know the perfect estate of the Church; her
estate before the apostles' days, and in the apostles' days and since the
days of the apostles.  And her present estate we found to be as a woman
who had once been clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, who
brought forth Him that was to rule the nations; but she [the Church] was
fled into the wilderness, and there sitting desolate, in her place that
was prepared of God for such a season, in the very end of which season,
when the time of her sojourning was towards a full end, then _we_
[Friends] were brought forth."[2]

In the Light which broke in upon them, he says, they saw that "the world
was in darkness" and that "anti-Christ was set up in the temple of God,
ruling over all, having brought nations under his power, and having set
up his government over all for many ages; even since the days of the
apostles and true churches hath he reigned.~.~.~.  As for the ministry,
first, looking upon it with a single eye in the Light of the Spirit of
God which had anointed us, we beheld it clearly _not to be of Christ, nor
sent of Him, nor having the commission, power, and authority of Christ,
as His ministry had in the days of true churches; but in all things, as
in call, practice, maintenance, {339} and in everything else, in fruits
and effects we found it to disagree, and to be wholly contrary to the
true ministry of Christ in the days of the apostles_."[3]  His charge
against the ministers of his day is one now very familiar to us: "You
preach to people what you have studied out of books and old authors, and
what you have noted down you preach by an hour-glass and not as the
Spirit of God gives you utterance.  You preach other men's words which
you have collected."[4]  The "call" to ministry, he urges, is based upon
learning acquired in schools, colleges, and universities, and is not of
the Spirit, and ministers' lives are obvious signs that they are not in
the true "apostolic succession."[5]  "As for all churches (so called),"
he continues, "we beheld you all in the apostasy and degeneration from
the true Church, not being gathered by the Spirit of the Lord, nor
anointed thereby as the true members of Christ ever were, but to be in
forms of righteousness without power, and imitations without life.  All
the practices of religion we beheld to be without power and life.~.~.~.
We beheld all professions [of religion] to be but as coverings of
fig-leaves, while the [inner] nature stood uncondemned and not

He insists that no true and radical reformation of the Church has taken
place, that the churches of his day still bear the marks of apostasy as
did the churches before the Reformation occurred: "Do not professors and
sects of people have the form without the power of godliness?  Are not
all people still covetous and earthly-minded, and given to the world, and
proud and vain, even such as profess religion?  Are not professors as
covetous and proud as such as do not profess?  Are they not given to the
world, and doth it not show that they are not changed nor translated?
And is it not manifest that they have taken up the _form_ of the
apostles' and Christ's words and practices, and are without the {340}
life, and not guided by the Spirit of Christ and the apostles in their
praying and preaching?"[7]

Here, with an air of prophet-like boldness and infallibility, we have
once again an announcement of the inadequacy of the Reformation, the
formal and external character of prevailing types of religion, and the
unapostolic nature of the existing churches.  The language describing the
visible church is throughout the language of a "Seeker."  "We ceased," he
says in words that exactly describe the "Seeker," "from the teachings of
all men, and their words and their worships, and their temples, and all
their baptisms and churches, and we ceased from our own words and
professions and practices in religion.~.~.~.  We met together often, and
waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and harkened to
the voice of the Lord and felt His Word in our hearts."[8]

The striking difference between him and the contemporary "Seeker" lies in
the fact that he profoundly believed, that the time of "apostasy" was now
at an end, that a new "commission" had come, that a real Reformation was
being set into operation, and that the apostolic Church--the Church of
Christ, the Church of the Spirit--had appeared as though let down from
heaven.  He relates how the "Lord raised us [Friends] up and opened our
mouths in this His Spirit," and how "the Light of Christ revealed and
made known to us all things that pertain to salvation, redemption, and
eternal life, needful for man to know," and how through the outpouring
and anointing of the Spirit "the true Church," "the true worship," "the
true ministry" have come again to the world.  He makes such exalted
claims as these: we received the pouring out of the spirit upon us; the
gift of God's eternal Spirit was bestowed upon us as in the days of old;
the deep things of God were revealed to us; the Lord Almighty brought us
out of captivity and bondage and put an end to sin and death; {341} the
babe of glory was born in us; we entered into ever-lasting union,
fellowship, and covenant with the Lord, and we were raised from death to
Life.  And, finally, he announces the new "commission" in positive words
of glowing faith: "Then having armed us with power, strength, and wisdom
and dominion, according to His mind, and having taught us in all things,
and having chosen us unto His work, God put His sword into our and and
gave us a perfect _commission_ to go forth in His name and authority,
giving us the Word from His mouth what to cut down and what to preserve,
and giving us the everlasting gospel to preach."[9]

In the absolute certainty of his divine "commission," he challenges the
Churches which are defending their authority "with jails and prisons and
whips and stocks and inquisitions--all Cain's weapons"--to a "trial" of
faith and spirit and power, like that on Mount Carmel in the days of
Elijah, "whether it be they or we that are of the true faith and true
worship of God that the apostles were in."[10]

There can be no doubt, I think, that the writer of this "Epistle to the
Reader" in _The Great Mystery_, has come out of the "Seeker" movement, or
that he has "come out" of it only because he believes that he with others
have found what they sought, and are the seed and nucleus of the true,
restored, apostolic Church of God.  They refuse absolutely to be called a
sect; and they assume in all their early writings that they are the
restored Church of Christ, though they seldom use that word "Church"
because in their thought it was a name associated with the "apostasy,"
and they preferred to call themselves "the Seed," or "the Children of the
Light."  These were, as I have sufficiently shown, names already in use.

It is an interesting fact that this "Epistle" dates the beginning of the
new era as 1652--"it is now {342} about seven years since the Lord raised
us up in the North of England and opened our mouths in this His
Spirit"[11]--and that it locates the springing forth of "the Seed" in the
North of England.   It was, we are now well aware, out of the
Seeker-groups of the northern counties of England that the new "Society"
was actually born, and it grew, like a rolling snowball, as it gathered
in the prepared groups of "Seekers," both north and south in England, and
a little later in America.[12]

The creation of the Quaker "Society" was not the work of any man; the
groups were there before the formative leader appeared on the scene.  In
fact the very term "Quaker," which was soon fixed upon the new movement
as the popular name for it, had already been in use--at least as far back
as 1646--for the members of some of these highly emotional communities.
As soon as these groups--intense in their expectations--found a leader
who was already raised to an impelling conviction of immediate contact
with God and of definite illumination by the living Christ, and possessed
of an overmastering _sense of mission_, the effect was extraordinary.
The account of what happened is, we may be sure, none too strong: "The
gift of God's eternal Spirit was poured upon us as in days of old, our
hearts were made glad, our tongues were loosed, and we spake with new
tongues as the Lord gave us utterance and as His Spirit led us."[13]
Profound psychological experiences occurred; they felt themselves
baptized together, fused and formed into one group-spirit, swept into
trembling as by a mighty rushing wind, and carried beyond their common
ordinary range of thought and  power and utterance.  Their
group-experiences of a common divine Spirit coming upon their lives from
beyond themselves, their discovery that God was in their midst, that
gifts were conferred upon them, and, above all, Fox's compelling sense of
apostolic mission--a conviction which was, as it always is,
contagious--were {343} grounds enough to change these Seeker-groups into
the seed and nucleus of a Body possessed of the faith that the
long-expected Church of the Spirit had at last come.  They rose to the
group-consciousness that they were the beginners, in modern times, of a
Church of the spiritual order, and a community-loyalty was born which
gave the movement great conquering power and an amazing capacity for
endurance and suffering.

In Fox we have a person of extraordinary psychical experiences and of
dynamic leadership, and in him the "prophetical" and "enthusiast" traits
of the movement are strikingly in evidence.  He reveals in a variety of
ways his connections with the great body of spiritual ideas that had been
accumulating for more than a century before his time, but for the most
part these influences worked upon him in sub-conscious ways as an
atmosphere and climate of his spirit, rather than as a clearly conceived
body of truth which he got by reading authors and which he apprehended
through clear intellectual processes.  He can be rightly appreciated only
as he is seen to be a potent member of an organic group-life which formed
him as much as he formed it.

The expositions, however, of the more trained and scholarly Quakers show
an explicit acquaintance with the writings of these men whom we have been
studying, and they cannot be adequately understood in isolation.  The
fruits of reading and of contact with a wider intellectual world are
clearly in evidence, and the ideas and the peculiar phrases of the
spiritual reformers "pass and come again" in their voluminous works.
Robert Barclay is the chief literary exponent of Quakerism.  His range of
familiarity with religious and theological literature is very extensive,
and he shows intimate acquaintance with contemporary thought.  For him,
as for his spiritual predecessors, the existing Church is "in apostasy";
it has departed from "the simplicity and purity of the gospel as it was
in the apostles' days."  Christian faith has become "burdened with
manifold inventions and traditions, with various notions and opinions"
which {344} have been "substituted instead" of the true religion of

The Quaker interpreters all unite in treating "notions and opinions"--or,
to use their sweeping phrase, "notional religion"--as barren
_substitutes_ for a true religion of spiritual reality, which for them is
always born in a first-hand experience of Christ as the inner spirit and
life and power of one's entire being and activity.  A good specimen
instance of this position is found in William Penn's Tract, "A Key
opening the Way to every Capacity," etc.[15]  He says: "It is not
Opinion, or Speculation, or Notions of what is true; or Assent to or
Subscription of Articles or Propositions, tho' never so soundly worded,
that makes a Man a true Believer or a true Christian." "Phrases of
Schoolmen," "notions of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," "conceptions of
man's meer Wit," "superfining interpretations of Scripture texts," he
declares to be very chaffy substitutes for a consciousness of Christ's
Life and Light within, conformity of mind and practice to the will of
God, and the actual formation of Christ in the inner self.[16]  The
further Reformation, upon the necessity of which he insists, is one that
will take Christianity not only beyond and beneath outward ceremonies,
but beyond and beneath all formulations of creed and doctrine, and that
will ground and establish it in the experience and attitude and verifying
power of the person's life.[17] This is precisely what all these teachers
of spiritual religion have all the time been demanding.

The Quaker view of the moral and dynamic character of saving faith, the
view that justification is a vital process and not merely a forensic
scheme, is, in heart and essence, indistinguishable from the central
teaching of these spiritual predecessors of the Quakers.  No Quaker has
presented this view in a more compact, and at the same time adequate way
than has Barclay in one of his {345} important early Tracts: "The manner
and way whereby Christ's righteousness and obedience, death and
sufferings, become profitable unto us and are made ours, is by receiving
Him, and becoming one with Him in our hearts, embracing and entertaining
that holy Seed, which as it is embraced and entertained, becometh a holy
birth in us~.~.~. by which the body of sin and death is done away, and we
cleansed, and washed, and purged from our sins, _not imaginarily_, but
really; and we are really and truly made righteous.~.~.~.  Christ Himself
revealed in us, indwelling in us.  His life and spirit covering us--that
is the ground of our justification."[18]

The root principle of Quakerism is belief in a divine Light, or Seed of
God, in the soul of man.  All of the multitudinous Quaker books and
tracts bear unvarying testimony to that, and all their contemporary
accounts make that faith, that principle, their _organizing idea_.  What
they all say is that there is a Light in man which shines into his
darkness, reveals his condition to him, makes him aware of evil and
checks him when he is in the pursuit of it; gives him a vision of
righteousness, attracts him toward goodness, and points him infallibly
toward Christ from whom the Light shines.  This Light is pure, immediate,
and spiritual.  It is of God, in fact is God immanently revealed.[19]

Then, again, the figure is changed and what was called Light is now
called "Seed," and it is thought of as a resident germ of divine Life
which, through the active co-operation of the individual, produces a new
creation within, and makes the person through and through of a new nature
like itself.[20]  It is also frequently called "the Word of God," or
"Grace of God," or "That of God in you," or "Christ within," or "the
Spirit," or "the Kingdom within you."  "By this Seed, Grace, and Word of
God, and Light wherewith every one is enlightened," {346} Barclay says,
"We understand a spiritual, heavenly, and invisible Principle in which
God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dwells; a measure [_i.e._ a
portion] of which divine and glorious Life is in all men as a Seed, which
of its own nature draws, invites, and inclines to God.  This some call
_vehiculum dei_, or the spiritual Body of Christ, the flesh and blood of
Christ, which came down from heaven, of which all saints do feed and are
thereby nourished unto eternal life."[21] But under whatever name it
goes, it is always thought of as a _saving Principle_.  He who says yes
responds, obeys, co-operates, and allows this resident Seed of God, or
Christ-Light, to have full sway in him becomes transformed thereby and
re-created into likeness to Christ, by whom the inner Seed was planted
and of whose nature it is.  The spiritual predecessors of the Quakers, as
we have seen, all held this view with individual variations of phrase and
experience.  All the Quaker terms for the _Principle_ were used by
Sebastian Franck and by Caspar Schwenckfeld; and all the men who taught
the dynamic process of salvation presuppose that something of the divine
nature, as Light or Seed or Spirit, or the resurrected Christ, is
directly operative upon or within the human soul.  That is, salvation is
for them more than a moral change, it is a birth-and-life-process,
initiated and carried through by the _real presence_ of the Divine in the

The Quakers are perhaps somewhat more emphatic than were their spiritual
forerunners, with the exception {347} of Schwenckfeld, in their
declarations that this Seed, this Light, is not _natural_.  "We assert,"
William Penn wrote, "the Light of Christ not to be a Natural Light,
otherwise than as all men born into the world have a Measure of Christ's
Light, and so in a sense it may be called Natural to all Men.  But this
Light is something else than the bare Understanding which Man hath as a
Rational Creature."[23]  What man does naturally have, in William Penn's
view, is a _capacity_ for the Light, but the Light itself is from a
source wholly heavenly and divine.  Barclay, in quite Cartesian fashion,
interprets it to be "a real spiritual Substance," "a substantial Seed"
from another world, hidden away within man's soul at birth, lying there
"like naked grain in stony ground," until the child is old enough to feel
its stirrings and to determine by his own free choices of obedience or
disobedience to its movings whether it shall grow and develop or not.[24]
We plainly have here a double world.  The once-born man is "natural,"
though he carries buried deep in the subsoil of his nature a Seed of God,
a germ of Life drawn from the higher, spiritual world.  He may live in
and under the dominion of either world, but he must choose which it shall
be.  By response to and participation with the divine Seed of
radio-active spiritual energy, he can become transformed--utterly and
completely--into a new nature, and can belong here and now to the
spiritual World which Christ by His victorious Life has brought across
the chasm and planted in our soil.  On the other hand, by negligence or
by disobedience he can live a mere empirical, natural life, and keep his
inestimable Seed of God buried and forgotten in a region of himself which
he seldom or never visits.

The Quakers, however, as a consequence of their heightened
group-consciousness, and as a result of the intense experiences enjoyed
in their gatherings, exhibited a far greater degree of _enthusiasm_ than
had appeared in the earlier exponents of the inner Word; and they showed
a heightened element of _prophetism_, both in their faith {348} and
practice.  They devoutly believed that in them the prophecy of Jeremiah
had found fulfilment: God had written His Word in their hearts, so that
they were recipients of His will and His message.  The more sure Word of
prophecy, announced by Peter, had come and the Day Star had risen in
their hearts.  Their Light was to them not only a principle of connection
with a higher world, a germ of a new nativity, it was also a principle
and basis for continuous revelation, and for definite openings of light
and guidance on all matters that concern present-day life and practice.
"The inward command," Barclay says, "is never wanting in the due season
to any duty."[25]

Like their predecessors, they did not slight the importance of the
outward word, the Scriptures.  They had an immense reverence for them and
were diligent in the study and skilful in the use of them, though of
course they used them in a thoroughly uncritical and unhistorical way, as
did also their opponents.  But they would never allow the Scriptures to
be called the Word of God or to be treated as God's only revelation of
Himself to man without a challenge.  "The Word of God," Barclay says,
"is, like unto Himself, spiritual, yea, Spirit and Life, and therefore
cannot be heard and read with the natural external senses as the
Scriptures can."  Our Master, he adds, is always with us.  "His letter is
writ in our hearts and there we find it."[26]  "There is," William Penn
declares, "something _nearer to us_ than Scriptures, to wit, the Word in
the heart from which all Scriptures came," though he is very emphatic in
his claim that Friends never slight the Scriptures and believe in their
divine authority.[27]

It is not necessary to prolong the exposition of early Quakerism farther.
The similarity of its fundamental position with that of the preceding
spiritual reformers is perfectly clear.  Quakerism is, thus, no isolated
or sporadic religious phenomenon.  It is deeply rooted and embedded in a
far wider movement that had been {349} accumulating volume and power for
more than a century before George Fox became a "prophet" of it to the
English people.  And both in its new English, and in its earlier
continental form, it was a serious attempt to achieve a more complete
Reformation, to restore primitive Christianity, and to change the basis
of authority from external things, of any  sort whatever, to the interior
life and spirit of man.

That the _formulation_ of this vast spiritual Reformation, as presented
by the men who are studied in this volume, was adequate, I do not for a
moment assert.  The views here expounded in their historical setting are
plainly hampered by inadequate philosophical and psychological
presuppositions.  They need reconstructive interpretation and a fresh
re-reading, in terms of our richer experience, our larger historical
perspective, and our truer psychological conceptions.  That work of
reexamination and reinterpretation, especially of the Quaker movement and
the Quaker message, is a part of the task undertaken in the historical
volumes which follow this one in this series.  It must suffice for the
present to have reviewed here the story and the struggles of these brave,
sincere men and their heroic endeavours to proclaim a spiritual
Christianity.  It has been a privilege to live for a little while with
this succession of high-minded men, to review for our time their type of
spiritual religion, and to retrace their apostolic efforts to bring the
world, with its sins and its tragedies and its inner hungers, back to the
Father's Love and to the real presence of the eternal Christ.  They may
have failed in their intellectual formulation, but at least they
succeeded in finding a living God, warm and tender and near at hand, the
Life of their lives, the Day Star in their hearts; and their travail of
soul, their brave endurance, and their loyal obedience to vision have
helped to make our modern world.

[1] This document, though, as stated above, not written by Fox, had his
approval, and may be taken as exactly expressing his views and his
position.  Many of the early Quaker books show how remarkable was the
corporate character and the group-spirit of the "Society" at this period.
Whatever any individual could contribute was given for the common cause
and went into the life of the whole.  I have given the passages, which I
have quoted from this "Epistle," in modern English.

[2] _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_ (London, 1659), p. B1.  Jacob
Boehme had already set Fox the example of calling the existing Church by
this opprobrious name.  See _The Threefold Life of Man_, vii., 56-58.

[3] _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_, p. B3.

[4] _Ibid._ p. A6.

[5] _Ibid._ pp. A5-A7.

[6] _Ibid._ p. B4.  This is almost word for word Boehme's view.

[7] _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_, p. C3.

[8] _Ibid._ p. B1.

[9] _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_, p. B2.  I have taken some
liberty in correcting the grammatical form of the passage quoted, but the
original sense is preserved.

[10] _Ibid._ p. C2.

[11] _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_, p. B.

[12] For evidence of Seeker-groups in America, see my _Quakers in the
American Colonies_.

[13] _The Great Mystery of the Great Whore_, pp. B1-B2.

[14] Preface to _A Catechism and Confession of Faith_.

[15] _Works_ (London, 1726), ii. p. 781.

[16] _Ibid._ ii. pp. 781-783.

[17] "Salvation lieth not in literal but in experimental
knowledge."--Barclay's _Apology_, Props. V. and VI. sec. 25.

[18] Barclay, "Truth cleared of Calumnies," _Works_ (London, 1691), i.
pp. 1-48.

[19] This view appears _passim_ in the works of Isaac Penington.

[20] See Penington's Tract, "Concerning the Seed of God," _Works_
(edition of 1761), ii. pp. 593-607.

[21] _Apology_, Props. V. and VI. sec. 13.  This passage could be exactly
paralleled in the writings of Schwenckfeld.

[22] It is interesting to see how closely William Law, the great exponent
of "Spiritual" Christianity in the eighteenth century, carrying on this
train of thought in another channel, approaches the Quaker position:
"Thou needest not run here or there saying, 'Where is Christ?'  Thou
needest not say, 'Who shall ascend into heaven, that is, to bring Christ
down from above?' or, 'Who shall descend into the deep, to bring up
Christ from the dead?'  For, behold, the Word, which is the Wisdom of
God, is in thy heart.  It is there as a bruiser of Thy serpent, as a
Light unto thy feet and Lanthorn unto thy paths; it is there as an Holy
Oil, to soften and overcome the wrathful fiery properties of thy nature,
and change them into the humble meekness of Light and Love; it is there
as a speaking Word of God in thy soul; as soon as thou art ready to hear,
this eternal, speaking Word will speak wisdom and peace in thy inward
parts, and bring forth the birth of Christ, with all His holy nature,
spirit, and temper within thee."--"Spirit of Prayer," _Works_, vii. p. 69.

[23] _Works_, ii. p. 780.

[24] _Apology_, Props. V. and VI. sec. 13.

[25] "Truth Cleared of Calumnies," _Works_, i. p. 13.

[26] _Ibid._ i. pp. 13-15.

[27] _Works_, ii. p. 782.



  Abrahams, Galenus, 118, 120-121
    and George Fox, 122-123
    discussion with Penn and Keith, 122
  Acontius, J., 115
  Agrippa of Nettesheim, Cornelius, 55 _n._, 136-137
  Althamer, A., 48
  Ambrose, Saint, 267
    characteristics of, 17-18, 28, 31, 81 _n._, 112, 267 _n._
    attacked by Franck, 48
    Schwenckfeld and, 80
    Coornhert and, 112
    Giles Randall and, 254
  Anabaptists, xv
    divisions among, 33
  Anderdon, John--
    on Behmenists, 227, 231-232
  Antinomianism, 238, 241, 254, 263
  Antinomians, xv
  Aristotle, 211
  Arminius, J.--
    controversy over views of, 114
    and Coornhert, 107
    and Whichcote, 289, 294
    and Culverwel, 289
  Arnold, Gottfried--
    on Entfelder, 39
    on Schwenckfeld, 64 _n._
    on Arminius, 107 _n._
    on Boreel, 118 _n._
  Astrology, 134, 137
    as used by Weigel, 148-150
    as used by Tentzel, 150 _n._
  Aubrey, John--
    on Traherne, 328
    Anabaptist Synod in, 20, 33
  Augustine, Saint, 6, 9, 246, 267
    theology of, 22, 204
    of Jacob Boehme, 162, 207

  Baader, F. von--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._, 153 _n._
  Baillie, Robert--
    on Anabaptism, 254 _n._
    on Giles Randall, 256 _n._; 262
  Balling, Peter, 123-124, 128
    influence of Cartesianism on, 124, 128, 130
  Barclay, Robert (of Ury), 123
    influence of Cartesianism on, 124, 347
    on divine Seed in man, 283, 345-346, 347
    teaching of, 343, 344-345, 348
  Barclay, Robert--
    on Boehme's influence on Quakers, 220 _n._
  Barneveldt, John of, 114 _n._
  Baxter, Richard--
    on Behmenists, 227
    on Vane, 271, 274
    on Sterry, 280
  Behmen, Jacob, 155 _n._ (_see_ Boehme)
  Behmenists, 227-234
    and Quakers, 231-233
  Bellers, John--
    on John Everard, 253 _n._
  "Bellius, Martinus," 93, 95
  Bernard, Saint, 6, 267
  Bewman, Jacob, 220
  Beza, T., 95, 290, 294
  Bible, translations from--
    by Denck, 21
    by Castellio, 90, 92
    by de Valdès, 237
    by Rous, 267
  Boehme, Jacob, 43 _n._, 139
    life and character of, 151-171, 208
    vision of, 148 _n._, 158, 159-161
    mysticism of, 154, 159, 201-206
    automatism of, 162, 207
    symbolism of, 173
    view of man, xxx
    view of God, xli _n._, 35 n; 174-177
    views on salvation, 170, 190-198, 289, 309
    views on the universe, 150 _n._, 159-160, 172-189
    writings of, 151 _n._, 161, 165 _n._
      in England, 208-220
    influence on--
      George Fox, 165 _n._, 170 _n._; 221-227, 338 _n._, 339 _n._
      Quakers, 220, 233
      Seekers, 220
      Isaac Newton, 181 _n._, 234
      John Milton, 234
      William Law, 153 _n._, 179, 234
      Sir Harry Vane, 275
    and the Behmenists, 227-234
    and B. Whichcote, 289, 302 _n._
  Boethius, 105
  Boreel, Adam, 117-120
    views of, 119-120
  Bosanquet, Bernard, xxxi _n._
  Bourne, Benjamin--
    on Randall, 256 n; 257
  Boutroux, Émile--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._, 183 _n._
  Breen, Daniel van, 117
  Brooks, Thomas--
    on Everard, 241
  Brothers of the Common Life, 4
  Broussoux, Émile--
    on Castellio, 88 _n._
  Browne, Sir Thomas, 275
  Browning, Robert--
    on Paracelsus, 138
  Bucer, Martin, 47
  Buisson, F.--
    on Castellio, 88 _n._
  Bünderlin, Johann--
    life of, 32-34, 40
    teaching of, 34-39, 69, 76, 169, 190
    writings of, 34 _n._
    a mystic, 35
    Franck's opinion of, 48
  Buonarotti, Michael Angelo, 237
  Burnet, Bishop G.--
    on Vane, 272
    on Cambridge Platonists, 289-290
  Burrough, Edward--
    on mission of "the Children of Light," 337-341

  Cabala, the--
    teaching of, 134-136
  Caird, Edward--
    on Cartesianism, 125 _n._
  Calvin, xlix, 121
    relations with Castellio, 89-91, 93, 96
    influence on Cambridge Platonists, 290, 294, 295
    in Holland, 106
    in England, 279
    and Arminianism, 114
  Campanus, Johann, 48, 59
  Carlyle, Thomas--
    on Rous, 267
  Castellio, Sebastian--
    life, 88-93, 97
    teachings of, 90, 91, 93-102, 107
    writings, 90, 92-94, 96, 97, 98, 99 _n._, 101, 103 _n._
    _nom-de-plume_ of, 93, 103 _n._
    as a Reformer, 103
    influence in England, 103 _n._, 243
    on Van der Kodde brothers, 115
    on Boreel, 118
  Caton, William--
    on Castellio, 103 _n._
  Charles II.--
    on Vane, 272
  "Children of the Light," 132, 221, 260, 277, 341
  Chillingworth, William, 291
    in a Faith religion, xxxix-xliv
    as viewed by--
      Denck, 25
      Bünderlin, 37
      Entfelder, 41, 42
      Spiritual Reformers, 44, 337
      Franck, 54, 61
      Schwenckfeld, 65, 69, 70
      Castellio, 99-101
      teachers of "Nature Mysticism," 134
      Weigel, 142-144
      Boehme, 183, 185 _n._, 191, 193-194
      John Sparrow, 216
      John Everard, 244, 250
      Pascal, 250 _n._
      Francis Rous, 269-270
      Peter Sterry, 284
      John Smith, 316
      Thomas Traherne, 332
  Chrypffs, Nicolaus (_see_ Cusa)
  Church, the--
    historical conception of, xlix
    as conceived by--
      Montanists, the, xiii
      Protestant Reformers, l
      Luther, 8, 121
      Denck, 38
      Bünderlin, 38
      Entfelder, 41
      Spiritual Reformers, l, 45
      Franck, 58-59, 145, 199
      Schwenckfeld, 78-80, 85
      Seekers, 84, 86, 340
      Collegiants, 84
      Borellists, 120
      Abrahams, 120-121, 122
      Weigel, 145, 147
      Boehme, 169-170, 199-201, 226
      George Fox, 200, 226, 339-340
  Church, interim, (_see also Sttilstand_)--
    Coornhert and, 113
  Cicero, 105
  Clarendon, Earl of--
    on Vane, 271, 279
  Clement of Alexandria, xxxix, 267
  Colet, John, 236
  Collegiants, the--
    and the _Stillstand_, 68 _n._
    Schwenckfeld and, 84
    history of, 113-124
    influence of Descartes and Spinoza on, 123 _seq._
  Colonna, Vittoria, 237
  Comans, Michael, 117
  Commonwealth, English--
    Reformation in, 266
    Rous in, 268
    Vane in, 271-272
    Puritans in, 290
  Conscience, liberty of--
    taught by--
      Castellio, 93-96
      Coornhert, 106
      Boreel, 118
      Vane, 273, 275
      Sterry, 286
    William Caton on, 103 _n._
    in Holland, 104
    dangers of, 320
  Coornhert, D. V.--
    life, 105-108
    writings, 105, 106
    teachings, 106, 108-113
    and Calvinism, 106, 111
    and Van der Kodde brothers, 115
    and Adam Boreel, 118
  Cotton, John, 292
  "Covenant of Grace," 274
  "Covenant of Works," 274, 309
  Crashaw, Richard, 322
  Crautwald, Valentine, 67 _n._, 81
  Cromwell, Oliver, 268, 271, 272, 274, 275, 280
  Cudworth, Ralph, 280, 290
  Culverwel, Nathaniel, 319
    on Arminius, 289
  Cunitz, M., 47 _n._
  Curio, Valentin, 18
  Cusa, Nicholas of, 3, 4
    translated into English by Everard, 243, 256, 260
    published by Randall, 256, 260

  Dante, xxiii, 171, 174
  Dell, William, l, 267 _n._
  Denck, Hans, 48
    life of, 18-21
    writings of, 22 _n._
    teaching of, xxx, 21-30, 69, 76, 242-243
    not an Anabaptist, 18
    begins "Spiritualist" movement, 132, 139, 169, 190
    Everard's translation of, 242
  Denqui, John, 242 _n._
  Descartes, R.--
    philosophy of, 117, 123-125, 128
    and Cambridge Platonists, 291
  Deussen, Paul--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._, 153 _n._
  Dilthey, Wilhelm--
    on justification, 8 _n._
  Dionysius, the Areopagite, 236, 239
    his conception of God, xxvii, 247
    translation of, by Everard, 243
    influence on Rous, 267
    on Sterry, 280
  Dobell, Bertram--
    on Traherne, 324 _n._; 327
  Döllinger, Johann--
    on Schwenckfeld, 64 _n._
  _Dompeldoop_, 116
  Donne, John, 322
  Dort, Synod of, 114
  Dürer, Albrecht, 48

  Ecke, Karl--
    on Schwenckfeld, 64 _n._
  Eckhart, Meister, 3, 4, 239, 243
    his conception of God, xxvi, xxvii, 247
  Ederheimer, Edgar--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._, 153 _n._
  Edward VI. of England, 92
  Ellington, Francis--
    on Boehme, 221
  Ellistone, John, 213
    translates Boehme into English, 213, 217, 221, 234 _n._
    views of, 217-220, 222
  Emmanuel College, 279, 290, 291, 306
  Endern, Carl von, 162 _n._, 165
    influence in--
      of Castellio, 103 _n._
      of Schwenckfeld, 84, 87, 103 _n._
      of Weigel, 139, 141, 146, 148, 150
      of Boehme, 208-234
      of Spiritual Reformers, 235, 251, 252, 267, 288
      of de Valdès, 237-238
    Quakers in, 132, 221, 227, 337
    Reformation spirit in, 266-267
    religious upheaval in, 320
  Entfelder, Christian--
    life of, 39, 40
    writings, 40
    teaching, 40-43, 69, 169, 190
  "Enthusiasm," 238
  "Enthusiasts," xv, 31, 48
  Erasmus, 34, 51, 55 _n._, 92, 105
    Christian Humanist, 1 _n._, 3, 47
    quoted on toleration, 93
  Erbkam, H. W.--
    on Schwenckfeld, 64 _n._
  Erigena, 3
  Etherington, John--
    on Randall, 255
  Everard, John--
    life of, 239-241, 289
    translations by, 241-243, 250 _n._, 256, 260
    Sermons, 241
    teaching, 243-252
    and Randall, 243 _n._, 256, 260
  Evil (_see_ Sin)

    definition of, xxxix
    in "spiritual" religion, xv
    as an approach to religion, xxxviii-xlv
    magic reliance on, 75
    Confessions of, 118
    Confessions of, source of divisions, 115
    view of, held by--
      Luther, xxxix, 5-11, 75
      Schwenckfeld, 75, 77-78
      Castellio, 100
      Coornhert, 109-110
      Weigel, 146
      Boehme, 195-198
      de Valdès, 236, 237
      John Smith, 316
      Quakers, 344
  Familism, 238, 241, 254, 255, 256 _n._., 258, 263, 267 _n._
  Faust, xxiii
  Ferrar, Nicholas, 237, 238
  Ficino, Marsilius, 134, 235-236
    influence on Sterry, 280
  Fox, George, 328
    mission of, 337-34l, 349
    character, 343
    conception of the Church, 200, 226, 339-341
    and Abrahams, 122-123
    and Boehme, 165 _n._, 170 _n._, 221-227, 338 _n._, 339 _n._
    and Justice Hotham, 210
    and Henry Vane, 278
    Castellio on conditions in, 101-102
  Francis of Assisi--
    and Schwenckfeld, 65
  Franck, Sebastian, 139
    Humanist and Mystic, 46, 55, 105
    life of, 47-52, 92
    writings, 49, 51
    teachings, 49, 50, 52-63, 69, 93, 199, 242, 243, 247, 346
    on the _Stillstand_, 86
    quoted by William Caton, 103 _n._
    translated by Everard, 242, 243
    influence on--
      Coornhert, 107
      Boreel, 118
      Weigel, 145, 146 _n._, 148
      Boehme, 154, 169, 190
  Franckenberg, Abraham von--
    on Boehme, 156, 165
  Frecht, Martin, 47
    views on, of--
      Spiritual Reformers, xlix
      Hans Denck, 22, 23
      Bünderlin, 35
      Luther, 70
      Schwenckfeld, 70, 72
      Castellio, 93-96, 107
      Coornhert, 106, 113
      Randall, 258-259
      Vane, 273, 275
  Freedom of conscience in Holland, 104
  Frettwell, Ralph, 232, 233
  Furley, Benjamin, 128 _n._
    collection of books, 258 _n._

  Gairdner, W. H. J., xxvii _n._
  _Gangraena_, Edwards'--
    on Giles Randall, 254, 256 _n._, 257, 262
  Gataker, Thomas--
    on Giles Randall, 254 ft.
  Gerson, 6
  Gichtel, J. G.--
    on Boehme, 153 _n._
    view of man in, xii, xiii
    seven qualities in, 180 _n._
    as conceived--
      in a Faith religion, xliv
      by Reason, xxxv-xxxviii
      by Spiritual Reformers, xlvii, 44
      by Mystics, xxiv, xxvii-xxviii, 247
      by Luther, 10, 11
      by Denck, 22-26
      by Bünderlin, 35-37
      by Entfelder, 40
      by Castellio, 99
      by Descartes, 125
      by Spinoza, xxviii, 126-127
      by Boehme, 35 _n._, 174-177
      in _The Light on the Candlestick_, 130
      in the Cabala, 134-135
      by Justice Hotham, 210
      by Everard, 246-248
      by Randall, 260-261, 262
  Goeters, W.--
    on Collegiants, etc., 104 _n._
  "Gomarists," 114
  Gonzaga, Giulia, 237
  Goodwin, John--
    on Randall, 257
    salvation by, 75, 99
    "Covenant of, the," 274
    as conceived by--
      the Remonstrants, 114
      Boehme, 170, 191
  Gregory of Nazianzen, 267
  Gregory of Nyssa, 267
  Gregory Thaumaturgus, 307
  Grocyn, 236
  Grotius, Hugo, 114 _n._
  Grützmacher, R. H.--
    on Schwenckfeld, 64 _n._
    on Boehme, 168

  Hagen, Carl--
    on Bünderlin, 34 _n._
  Haldane, E. S.--
    on Descartes, 124 _n._
  Hales, John, 291
  Harford, Rapha--
    on Everard, 240, 241
  Harless, von--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._
  Harnack, A.--
    on Luther, 15
    on Irenaeus, 71 _n._
  Hartmann, Franz--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._
  Hartranft, C. D.--
    editor of _Corpus Schwenchfeldianorum_, 64 _n._
    as conceived by--
      Spiritual Reformers, xlviii
      Weigel, 147
      Boehme, 179, 186-188, 289, 302 _n._, 312, 334
      Milton, 187 _n._
      Everard, 252
      Whichcote, 289, 301-302, 312
      John Smith, 312-313
      Thomas Traherne, 334-335
    on Denck, 17 _n._
  Hegel, G. W. F.--
    on nature of consciousness, xxxii
    on Boehme, 151 _n._, 195 _n._
  Hegler, A.--
    on Franck, 48 _n._
    as conceived by--
      Spiritual Reformers, xlviii
      Weigel, 147
      Boehme, 179, 186-188, 289, 302 _n._, 312, 334
      Milton, 187 _n._
      Whichcote, 289, 301-302, 312
      John Smith, 312-313
      Thomas Traherne, 334-335
  Heppe, H.--
    on Collegiants, 104 _n._
  Heraclitus, 63
  Herbert, George, 237, 322
  "Hermes Trismegistus," 53, 136 _n._, 210
    translated by Everard, 243
  Hetzer, Ludwig, 19, 21
  Hill, Thomas, 291
  Hinkelmann, Dr., 167
  Hobbes, Thomas, 291
  Hoffman, Melchior, 33
    Collegiants in, 68 _n._, 84, 86, 113-124
    William Caton in, 103 _n._
    disciples of Castellio in, 102, 103
    religious liberty in, 104
    Calvinism in, 106
  Hotham, Charles--
    on Boehme, 209, 211, 221
  Hotham, Durant--
    on Boehme, 209-210, 211, 221, 222
    and George Fox, 210
    views of, 211-212
  Howgil, Francis, 231
  Hübmaier, Balthasar, 40
  Hügel, Friedrich von, xlii
    finding a new world, 1-3
    view of man, 2, 4, 19, 69
    view of "Hermes Trismegistus," 243
    in England, 235-236
    influence on--
      Spiritual Reformers, xxx, 289
      Denck, 18, 19
      Franck, 46, 47
      Castellio, 89
      Coornhert, 105-106
      Cambridge Platonists, 289
      Thomas Traherne, 323
  Hutchinson, Anne, 274
  Hutten, Ulrich von, 47
  Hylkema, C. B.--
    on Collegiants, 104 _n._
    on Boreel, 118 _n._

  _Imitation of Christ, The_, 4, 267
    John Smith on, 314
  Independency, 268
  Inquisition, Spanish, 106
  Irenaeus, 71
  Israel, A.--
    on Weigel, 140 _n._

  Jarrin, Charles--
    on Castellio, 88 _n._
  Job, xxiii
  Joris, David, 108
    mediaeval conception of, 8 _n._
    as conceived by--
      Luther, 8 _n._, 19, 74
      Schwenckfeld, 75, 77
      John Smith, 310
      the Quakers, 344

  Keith, George, 122, 233
  Keller, L.--
    on Denck, 17 _n._, 18 _n._
  Kempis, Thomas à, 267
  Kessler, J., 18 _n._
  Kober, Dr. Tobias, 165
  Kodde, Giesbert Van der--
    founder of Collegiants, 115-116
  Kodde, John Van der, 115, 117
  Kodde, William Van der, 115
  Kolde, Th., 20 _n._

  Ladders, mystical, xxiii _n._
  Langcake, Thomas, 234 _n._
  "Latitude-men," 279, 288-291
  Law, William--
    on Boehme, 153 _n._, 179, 234
    on Inner Word, 346 _n._
  Leade, Jane, 228, 230, 232 _n._, 233
  Lee, Francis, 230-231, 233
  Letter, the--
    _versus_ the Spirit in--
      Denck, 28-29
      Bünderlin, 36-39
      Entfelder, 41-43
      Schwenckfeld, 72-74
      Franck, 60-62, 154, 245, 317
      Castellio, 101
      Coornhert, 108-109
      _The Light on the Candlestick_, 130
      Weigel, 148
      Boehme, 169-170, 201
      John Ellistone, 217-218
      Everard, 241, 245-246, 251
      Randall, 263
      Rous, 269
      Vane, 276
      Sterry, 285
      John Smith, 316-318
  Liegnitz Pastors, 67 _n._
  _Life and Light of a Man in Christ Jesus, The_, 263-265
  "Light, Children of the," 132, 221, 260, 277, 341
  Light, Inward, 129-132 (_see_ Inward Word)
  _Light on the Candlestick, The_, 123, 128
    teaching of, 128-132
    circulated as Quaker Tract, 128
  Linacre, Thomas, 236
  Loofs, F.--
    on Luther, 13
  Lucifer, 178, 185, 192, 234
  Luther, Martin--
    child of the people, 4, 9
    influence of mystics on, 6, 7, 9
    influence of Humanists on, 7, 8
    discovers way of Faith, xxxix, 5-8, 15
    theology of, 9-14, 19, 70, 76
    as a Reformer, 14-16, 12l
    quoted on Toleration, 93
    influence on--
      Franck, 47
      Schwenckfeld, 65-69
      Boehme, 154

    in use of words, xi
    as an aspect of--
      the Sacraments, 13
      Justification, 75
      Sacerdotalism, 79
      Superstition, 309
    in the Cabala, 135
    in Agrippa of Nettesheim, 136
    in Paracelsus, 137
    as conceived by--
      Gnostics, xii, xiii
      the psychologist, xvii
      the mystics, xxvi, 70
      the Spiritual Reformers, xxx-xxxii, xlviii, 337
      the Humanists, 2, 4, 19, 69
      Luther, 9, 11-12, 70
    Denck, xxx, 21-23
    Bünderlin, 35, 36
    Franck, 53-55
    Schwenckfeld, 54, 70, 77, 269
    Castellio, 99
    Coornhert, 106
    Remonstrants, 114
    Descartes, 124-125
    Spinoza, 127
    author of _The Light on the Candlestick_, 130-131
    exponents of "Nature Mysticism," 133
    Agrippa of Nettesheim, 137
    Paracelsus, 138
    Weigel, 142-145
    Boehme, xxx, 184-186, 188, 190-191
    Charles Hotham, 211
    John Ellistone, 218, 219
    John Sparrow, 218, 219
    Everard, 248-250
    Rous, 268
    Vane, 276-277
    Sterry, xxx, 283
    Robert Barclay, 283, 347
    Cambridge Platonists, 290
    Whichcote, 296-297
    John Smith, 310-311
    English poets, 322, 323
    Traherne, 327, 328-329
    the Quakers, 347
  Mann, Edward, 233 _n._
  Martensen, H. L.--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._
  Martyr, Peter, 236
    religious controversies in, 273-274
  McGiffert, A. C.--
    on Luther, 15
  Mennonites, 115
    views of, 116
    and Collegiants, 116, 120
  Mildmay, Sir Walter, 279
  Millennium, the--
    Vane on, 275, 277-278
  Milton, John--
    on heaven and hell, 187 _n._
    on strange sects, 214
    on Vane, 271
    on Inward Word, 321
    influence of Boehme on, 234
    and Sterry, 281
    and Quakers, 321
    must be divinely ordained, 79
    in interim-Church, 113
    among Mennonites, 116
    among Collegiants, 115, 117
    as conceived by--
      Weigel, 146-147
      de Valdès, 237
      George Fox, 226, 338-339
  Montanists establish a "spiritual" church, xiii
  "Montfort, Basil," 93
  More, Henry, 118, 280, 319
  More, Sir Thomas, 236
  "Morning Meeting," the, of London Friends, 232-233
  Münzer, Thomas--
    views on Inward Word, 19
    characteristics of, xix-xxi, 223
    limitations of, xxii-xxix
    negative way of, xxv-xxviii
    in "spiritual" religion, xv
    the basis of life, 3, 4
    a pathway to God, 133
    of Bünderlin, 35
    of Entfelder, 41
    of Franck, 46, 55, 62, 155
    of Coornhert, 108
    of Spinoza, 123, 125
    of Ficino, 134
    of Paracelsus, 138
    of Weigel, 141, 155
    of Boehme, 154-155, 159, 201-206
    of Randall, 258
    of Vane, 273
    of English poets, 323
    of Traherne, 333-334
  "Mysticism, Nature," 133-139, 148, 154, 180 _n._
    conception of--
      man, 70
      salvation, 75
      the universe, 155
      God, xxiv, xxvii-xxviii, 246-247
    influence on--
      Luther, 6, 7, 9
      new views, 136 _n._
      Coornhert, 108
      Boreel, 118
      Everard, 247
      Rous, 267
      Sterry, 280
      Cambridge Platonists, 289

  "Nature Mysticism," 133-139, 148, 154, 180 _n._
  Neo-Platonism, 134, 136 _n._
  Neo-Pythagoreanism, 134
  Newton, Sir Isaac--
    influence of Boehme on, 181 _n._, 234
  Nicholas, Henry, 108
  Nicoladoni, A., 21
    on Bünderlin, 33 _n._
  Norris, John, 319
    on Boehme, 153 _n._

    views on--
      of Mennonites, 116
      of Collegiants, 116
  Ochino, Bernardino, 236, 237, 238
  OEcolampadius, 18, 21, 34, 137
  Oporin, Humanist printer, 92
  Origen, 267, 307

  Paracelsus, 137-139
    teaching of, 159 _n._, 184
    symbolism of, 173 _n._
    influence on--
      Weigel, 148, 150 _n._
      Tentzel, 150 _n._
      Boehme, 154, 174, 175 _n._
  Parker, Alexander, 233 _n._
  Pascal, xxx _n._, 94, 250 _n._, 261 _n._
  Patrick, Simon (S. P.)--
    on "Latitude-Men," 288 _n._, 290
    on John Smith, 305 _n._, 306-308, 319
  Paul St.--
    use of word "spiritual," xi
  Penington, Isaac, xix, xxi, 345 _n._
  Penn, William--
    and Abrahams, 122
    teaching of, 344, 347, 348
    migration of Schwenckfelders to, 83
  Penny, A. J.--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._
  Pepys, Samuel--
    on Vane, 272
  Perfection, doctrine of--
    John Sparrow on, 216-217
    Randall on, 254, 255, 259
  Perkins, 294
  Personality, xlix, 8
  Pfeiffer, F.--
    on Eckhart, xxvi _n._, xxvii _n._
  Pflug, Julius, 34
  Philadelphian Society, the, 230, 23l, 233
    Greek, 134
      in England, 235-236, 288, 295
    Arabian, 134
  Pico of Mirandola, 134
  Pirkheimer, 47
  Plato, xxxiv, 53, 134, 211, 268
    influence on--
      Ficino, 235-236
      Peter Sterry, 280
      Cambridge Platonists, 289, 290
      Traherne, 323
  Platonists, Cambridge, 279, 280, 288-291, 319, 334
  Plotinus, 3, 53, 211, 236, 239, 280, 289, 290, 323
  Poiret, Peter--
    on Boehme, 153 _n._
  Pordage, John, 227-230
    on Quakers, 230 _n._
  Pordage, Samuel--
    on John Sparrow, 217 _n._
  Predestination, 99
    as viewed by--
      Spiritual Reformers, xlix
      Coornhert, 111
      Remonstrants, 114
      Boehme, 164, 204
  Presbyterianism, 268, 28l
  Principles, Three--
    in Boehme's universe, 183
  Proclus, 280
  Psalms, translated by Rous, 267
  Puritans, 279, 290, 291
  Pythagoras, 210

  Quakers, the--
    precursors of, xxxii, 31, 83, 116, 123, 132, 146,
      263, 264 _n._, 283, 337, 346, 348
    circulate _The Light on the Candlestick_, 128
    influence of Boehme on, 220-227, 233 _n._, 338 _n._
    influence of Everard on, 252 _n._
    and the Behmenists, 231-233
    mission of, 337-341
    organization of, 341-343
    views of, 343-348
  Qualities, Seven--
    in Jacob Boehme, 180-183, 191
    in Gnosticism, alchemy, etc., 180 _n._
  Quarles, Francis, 322, 323

  Randall, Giles--
    and Everard, 243 _n._, 256, 260
    life of, 253-254
    teaching, 254, 255, 260-263
    translations, 255-256, 258, 260, 261
  Randall, John, 253
  Ranterism, 31, 210, 241, 267 _n._
    among Anabaptists, 33
  Ranters, 320
  Raphael, 176
    in "spiritual" religion, xv
    as an approach to religion, xxxii-xxxviii
    use of, for--
      Luther, 12
      Franck, 55
      Castellio, 98, 101
      Coornhert, 108
      Ficino, 235-236
      Rous, 268
      Durant Hotham, 210, 211
      Whichcote, 295, 300 _n._
  Reformation, the--
    divisions in, 1, 31, 49, 88, 98-99, 169
    character of, 43-44, 66-67
    how to be carried out, 82, 112
    false course of, 97, 121
    in England, 266-267
    Spiritual Reformers and, xiv-xv, xlvi, 336-337, 349
  Reformer, a--
    types of, 14-16
    Denck as, 29
    Bünderlin as, 43-45
    Entfelder as, 43-45
    Franck as, 46
    Schwenckfeld, 64, 65, 75, 139
    Castellio as, 103
  Reformers, Spiritual--
    type of religion, xxix-xxxii, xlvi-li
    views of early, 43-45, 76, 133
    views brought into England, 235
    mission of, 336-337, 349
    and Spinoza, 127
    and Weigel, 139, 148
    and the Cambridge Platonists, 288-290
    influence of, on--
      Coornhert, 107
      Everard, 239, 251-252
      Randall, 255
      Vane, 273
      Milton, 321
      Traherne, 323
      Quakerism, 336-337, 348-349
  Reforms, Economic and Social, 4
  Religion, First-hand--
    Faith as, xlv
    in "Covenant of Grace," 274
    as taught by--
      Denck, 26-27
      Bünderlin, 37-39
      Entfelder, 42
      Franck, 45, 58
      Schwenckfeld, 71-72
      Spiritual Reformers, 76
      Castellio, 90, 100
      Coornhert, 109
      Weigel, 141
      Boehme, 154, 170-171, 192 _seq._
      Durant Hotham, 212
      John Ellistone, 217-218
      de Valdès, 237
      Everard, 244
      Rous, 267
      Vane, 272, 274
      Whichcote, 296, 297-299, 300-301, 322
      John Smith, 308, 310, 311-312, 318, 322
      English poets, 322-323
  Religion of lay type--
    Humanism and, 3, 4, 8
    found in Schwenckfeld Societies, 82-83
    in Collegiant Societies, 115-117, 120
    in Congregational Church government, 268
  Religion, rational type of, xxxii-xxxviii
  Religion, "spiritual," xlvi
    in Montanism, xiii
    in Gnostic sects, xii
    during Reformation period, xiv-xv
    three tendencies in, xv, xxix, xlv-xlvi
  Religion, study of, xv-xix
  Remonstrants, the--
    views of, 114
  Reuchlin, J., 47
    forerunner of Reformation, 134
  Richter, Gregorius--
    and Boehme, 162-164, 166-167, 168
  Rieuwertz, John, 128
  Roehrich, Gustave--
    on Denck, 17 _n._
  Roth, F.--
    on Schwenckfeld Societies, 83 _n._
  Rous, Francis--
    life, 267-268, 270
    writings, 268
    teaching, 268-271
  Rues, S. F.--
    on Collegiants, 123 _n._
  Rutherford, Samuel--
    on Schwenckfeld, 87
    on de Valdès, 238
    on Randall, 254, 258, 262, 263
  "Rynsburgers," 114 (_see_ Collegiants)

  Sabbath, the--
    names for, 264 _n._
    true, for Coornhert, 111
  Sachs, Hans, 47
  Sacraments, the use of--
    as taught by--
      Luther, 12-14, 19
      Denck, 27
      Bünderlin, 37, 39
      Entfelder, 41-43
      Franck, 59
      Schwenckfeld, 67-69, 80-82, 86, 270

      Castellio, 101
      Coornhert, 110-112
      Collegiants, 116
      Borellists, 120
      Weigel, 142, 147
      Boehme, 201
      Behmenists, 232-233
      Jane Leade, 232 _n._
      Everard, 251
      Randall, 254, 255
      Vane, 273
      Seekers, 273
      Whichcote, 302-303
  Salter, Dr. Samuel--
    on Whichcote, 291 _n._
  Saltmarsh, John, 267 _n._
    by Faith, xlii-xliv
    by works, xlvi, 75
    view of, as held by--
      Protestant Reformers, xlvi
      Spiritual Reformers, xlvii-xlix, 44, 76
      historic Church, 75, 99
      Mystics, 75
      Luther, 10-12, 76
      Denck, 25-27, 28, 243
      Bünderlin, 36-38
      Entfelder, 42
      Franck, 54-55
      Schwenckfeld, 70-72, 74-78, 285
      Irenaeus, 70
      Castellio, 98, 100
      Coornhert, 110
      Remonstrants, 114
      Weigel, 141
      Boehme, 170, 190-198, 289
      de Valdès, 236, 237
      Everard, 250
      Sterry, 285
      Whichcote, 289, 293, 301
      John Smith, 311-312
      Traherne, 332-333
      Quakers, 345, 346-347
  Sampson, Alden--
    on Milton, 321 _n._
  Schellhorn, J. G., 66 _n._
  Schleiermacher, Friedrich, xxxii
  Schmalkald League, 69
  Schneider, Walter--
    on Adam Boreel, 118 _n._
  Schweinitz, Sigismund von, 167, 168
  Schweizer, A.--
    on Castellio, 88 _n._
  Schwenckfeld, Caspar, 48
    as a Reformer, 64, 65, 75, 139
    life, 65-69
    teaching, 54, 66, 67, 69-87, 154, 269, 285, 346, 347
    writings, 64 _n._, 70 _n._
    organizes Societies, 82-83
    appearance of views in England, 84, 87, 103 _n._
    influence on--
      Weigel, 142, 148
      Boehme, 154, 156 _n._, 190
  Scriptures, the--
    views on, as held by--
      Luther, 12
      Denck, 28, 29, 242
      Bünderlin, 36
      Entfelder, 42
      Spiritual Reformers, 44, 251
      Franck, 58, 60, 6l, 243
      Schwenckfeld, 73
      Castellio, 101
      Coornhert, 108
      Borellists, 120
      Boehme, 169, 170, 225
      John Sparrow, 215, 216, 225
      George Fox, 225
      Everard, 245, 251
      Randall, 255
      Rous, 269
      Whichcote, 300
      John Smith, 317
      Quakers, 348
  Scultetus, B., 163 _n._
  Seekers, the--
    and the _Stillstand_, 68 _n._
    view of the Church, 84, 86, 340
    view of sacraments, 273
    Schwenckfeld and, 84
    among the Collegiants, 117, 120, 122
    in England, 122, 267 _n._
    Boehme of the type of, 159
    Boehme's influence on, 220-221
    Vane one of the, 273
    and the Quakers, 340-342
  Seidemann, J. R.--
    on Münzer, 19 _n._
  Servetus, 93, 96
  Sewel, William--
    on Abrahams, 122 _n._
  "Signature," 174, 183, 222, 223
  Silesius, Angelus, 244 _n._
  Simons, Menno, 112, 121
    views of, as held by--
      Franck, 62
      Schwenckfeld, 70
      Castellio, 99
      Remonstrants, 114
      Boehme, 154, 155, 177-179, 188-189, 191
      John Sparrow, 216, 217
      Sterry, 284
      Whichcote, 301-302
      John Smith, 312-313
      Traherne, 331-332
  Slee, J. C. Van--
    on Collegiants, 114 _n._
  Smith, John--
    life, 305-306
    character, 305, 306-308, 318
    teaching, 308-318, 322
    organized by Schwenckfeld, 82-83
    of Collegiants, 115-117, 119-120, 123
  Society of Friends--
    organized by George Fox, 337, 341-343
  Socrates, xxxiii _n._, 211
  Sopingius, G., 114
  Sparrow, John--
    translates Boehme into English, 213-221, 222, 234 _n._
    views of, 214-217, 225
  Spinoza, B.--
    mysticism of, xxviii, 123, 125
    Philosophy of, 125
    and the Spiritual Reformers, 127
    and the Collegiants, 123, 128
  Spiritual, the word--
    Paul's use of, xi
    in Johannine writings, xii
    among Gnostics, xii
      Montanists, xiii
      Spiritual Reformers, xiv-xv
  "Spiritualists," 12, 31, 48
  Spruyt, David, 120
  Steiner, R.--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._
  Sterry, Peter--
    life, 279-281
    writings, 281
    teachings, xxx, xxxiv, 281-287
  _Stillstand_, the--
    Schwenckfeld and, 67, 86, 273
    Franck and, 86
    revived by Collegiants and Seekers, 68 _n._
    Vane adopts type of, 273
  Stoddart, A. M.--
    on Paracelsus, 137 _n._
  Stoicism, 134
    on Collegiants, 119
  Strobel, G. T.--
    on Münzer, 19 _n._
  Sub-conscious, the, xxviii-xxix
  Swinburne, A. C., 173

  Tauler, xxvi, 3, 4, 6, 19, 141, 239, 243, 253 _n._, 267
    his conception of God, 247
  Taylor, Jeremy, 291
  Taylor, Thomas--
    on Boehme, 220
  "Temperature," 178, 181, 185
  Tentzel, A., 242
    use of astrology by, 150 _n._
  _Theologia Germanica_, xxvi _n._, 4, 6, 239, 263
    translated by--
      John Theophilus (Castellio), 103 _n._, 243, 256
      Everard, 243
      Randall, 256-257, 258
    influence on Weigel, 141
  Theophilus, John (Castellio), 103 _n._, 243
  Thornton, William, 220
  Tilken, Balthazar, 170
  Traherne, Thomas--
    life, 323-324, 327, 328
    writings, 327
    teaching, 322, 324-327, 328-335
  Trithemius, 137
  Troeltsch, E.--
    on Luther, 15 _n._
    on Franck, 47 _n._
    on Schwenckfeld, 64 _n._
  Tuckney, Dr. Anthony, 279, 291
    correspondence with Whichcote, 292-296, 302
  Tulloch, John--
    on Cambridge Platonists, 303 _n._, 305
  Tully, 290
  Turner, Wyllyam, 84

  Underhill, Evelyn, x
  Universe, the--
    as conceived--
      in a rational religion, xxxii-xxxviii
      by Bünderlin, 35
      by Entfelder, 40
      in "Nature Mysticism," 133
      in the Cabala, 135
      by Agrippa of Nettesheim, 137
      by Paracelsus, 138-139
      by Weigel, 148
      by Boehme, 150 _n._, 159-160, 172-189
      by John Sparrow, 214
      by John Ellistone, 219
      by Everard, 248
      by Vane, 276-278
      by Sterry, 282
      by John Smith, 314-316
      by Traherne, 329-331
  Vadian, 21
  Valdès, Alfonso de, 236
  Valdès, Juan de--
    life, 236-237
    teaching, 237
    influence in England, 237-238
  Vane, Sir Harry--
    life, 271-274
    teaching, 274
    and George Fox, 278
    and Sterry, 280
  Vaughan, Henry, 322, 326, 335
    on Bünderlin, 33 _n._
    on Entfelder, 40
  Vermigli, Pietro Martire, 236, 237, 238

  Wallace, William, xxxvii
  Walther, Dr. B., 165
  Walton, Christopher--
    on Boehme, 151 _n._, 179 _n._
    on Jane Leade, 230
    views of Collegiants on, 117
    views of Boehme on, 199
  Ward, George--
    on Boehme, 234 _n._
  Ward, James, xxxvi
  Warmund, Church of, 115-116
  Weigel, Valentine--
    life, 139-140, 148 _n._
    teaching, 141-150
    writings, 141, 145, 148
    influence on Boehme, 139, 148, 150 _n._, 154, 156 _n._, 169, 190
    influence in England, 139, 141, 146, 148, 150
  Weissner, Dr. Cornelius, 163, 165
  Whichcote, Benjamin--
    life, 279, 289, 291-293
    teaching, 293-304
    and Dr. Tuckney, 292-295
    and John Smith, 306
  Whitaker, Richard--
    on Boehme, 208 _n._
  Wilcox, Ella Wheeler, xxxviii
  Williams, Roger--
    on Vane, 275
  Winstanley, Gerard, 267 _n._, 334
  Winthrop, John, 274, 275
  Word of God, Inward--
    as taught by--
      the Spiritual Reformers, xxx, xxxviii, li, 32, 44, 337
      Thomas Münzer, 19
      Ludwig Hetzer, 19
      Denck, 24, 27, 28-30, 243
      Bünderlin, 36-39
      Entfelder, 41
      Franck, 53, 56-58, 346
      Schwenckfeld, 66, 72, 346, 347
      Castellio, 101
      Coornhert, 108-109
      _The Light on the Candlestick_, 129-132
      Weigel, 147
      Boehme, 169
      John Sparrow, 214-216
      George Fox, 215
      John Ellistone, 218
      de Valdès, 238
      Everard, 246, 251-252
      Randall, 263
      Rous, 268-269
      Vane, 276, 279
      Milton, 321
      William Law, 346 _n._
    root principle of Quakerism, 345, 348
  Wordsworth, William, xxiii, xxxv
  Worthington, John--
    on John Smith, 306, 307

  Zwickau Prophets, 12
  Zwingli, 121

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